Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bernstein - standing on the brink, 29 April 2009
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos.4 - 6; Orchestral works (Audio CD)
Whilst far from being a 1st choice for these three late symphonies
(for that I'd suggest Mravinsky) these are regardless undeniably white hot and revelatory performances.

Granted Bernstein's broad tempo can make these works sound grueling to some but I was totally convinced.
If you insist on your Tchaikovsky being invigorating these probably aren't for you.
This is Tchaikovsky repackaged almost in Mahler's clothes,
uber serious,thoughtful,expansive,positively suffocating from the weight of tragedy which runs through each of these symphonies but which Bernstein really brings to the fore here.

Let's not forget that this is an older and wiser Lenny revisiting familiar scores and wishing to present things in a different light to that which we are used to.
I have absolutely no problem with that as it is what helps to keep often overly familiar classical music refreshing.

I imagine the most controversial point for many would be Bernstein's concept of the 6th and especially the adagio which he drags out to some 17 minutes in length.
Bernstein clearly saw the link between this and the closing of Mahler's 9th and explicitly presents this movement as
"slow motion psychological disintegration".
Nietzsche would no doubt condemn such wallowing in morbid sentimentality as a prime example of decadent music but everyone surely has a right to their own opinion when it comes to art.

I believe a conductor should be free to mold tempos,
phrase shapes and instrumental balances to suit their own interpretative vision.

Ludwig Van Beethoven himself is once reported as saying that tempo was a matter of inner feelings.

George Bernard Shaw once remarked how
it was the job of the conductor to:
1 Decide how the music should be played.
2 To make the orchestra play it that way and
3 Convince the audience that his way is right.

It is up to you to decide if he succeeds here,
for myself he most assuredly does.
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