Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great deal of good music making for your money!, 1 May 2012
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1-6; Ballet music, etc (MP3 Download)
This collection of Tchaikovsky performances surprised me somewhat. Hearing the New Philharmonia play Mahler'5 Fifth on EMI under Barbirolli I had convinced myself that the ensemble - at that time at least - lacked precision of ensemble and generally sounded slack (You've probably guessed that I do NOT buy the hype about this particular Mahler 5!). Oh how wrong was I!

The First enjoys tight ensemble with some very exciting moments. The dance rhythms really hit home in the Finale, thought the rest is scarely less enjoyable. Similar things could be said of 2 and 3, both of which enjoy plenty of wit and fun from Muti. The Fourth is really magnificent, not least because those powerful string lines in the First movement leave such a strong and resilient impression.

Wwe're spoil for choice when it comes to Fifths, but I can't imagine anyone being disappointed with this one. The slow movement didn't quite hold my attention as it can, but the rest was atmospheric. Similarly the Sixth didn't leave me shell-shocked in the same way that the Pletnev (Virgin version) does, but it's well played. I would have preferred a swifter pace in the opening minutes but really at this price I can't complain.

Manfred is very powerfullt wrought - just listen to the stuttering horns when the big tune comes along in the First and Last movements. The string really sing, too.

And if that's not enough to interest you then the 'fillers' do rather better than fill up space! Romeo and Juliet is very moving at the close and driven in the middle. Both Hamlet and Francesca face the tumult head on, driving the through the many storms at fever pitch. 1812 is vey festive in atmosphere and the Swan Lake excerpts are nicely done, if ordered strangely. Sometimes I felt that Muti's chosen tempi for the Ballet pieces were a bit extreme - the Sleeping Beauty Waltz is very fast, but stands up nicely as a piece of concert hall music - but there are so many versions to choose from that it doesn't really matter!

I was not at all convinced by the Gavrilov 1st Piano Concerto, though by then the message had already hit home. The pace of the first movement struck me as too slow, so the great string tune seemed a little mannered.But with so much success elsewhere I was happy to accept it.

So if you are looking for a substantial Tchaikovsky sampler you could do a lot worse that this. I happen to also think that you could do better - For me Jansons and Karajan work well in the Symphonies, and there are countless versions of the shorter works that cound as classics. Litton's set also contains lots of bonuses and are just as well played. But if you are looking for multiple versions, or a starting point this is worth your money.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Oct 2013 14:10:23 GMT
W. Campbell says:
Thank you for an informative and complete review. I too am delighted with the MP3 download. I agree totally that the only real weakness is the Piano Concerto although as my all-time favourite version of this piece is the Argerich/Kondrashin rendering I suppose I would find the tempo a bit strange. First Movement Argerich 19.07, Gavrilov 22.31!
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