28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Cleaned up very nicely,
This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos.4, 5 & 6 "Pathetique" (Audio CD)
Since much has already been said of the interpretations on these discs, I will restrict myself to siding with those that consider them to be at or near the top of the best-ever list.
My first acquaintance with these recordings was in the 1960s, when I was beginning to collect LP records. Mravinsky saw to it that the Pathetique became my favourite symphony, and it has remained so ever since. Herbert von Karajan also recorded these works for Deutsche Grammophon, and it is arguable that he achieved finer recordings from a technical standpoint - he was apparently passionately interested in high fidelity reproduction. I preferred Mravinsky's readings, however.
Having been disappointed with CD reissues of recordings that I valued on LP, I approached these with some scepticism. Let me say at once that I consider DG to have done a fine job of re-mastering, and I was relieved not to hear tape hiss, wow and flutter, distortion, or any other problem that could have been associated with the original 1960 analogue recording; indeed I had not heard them as clearly previously on vinyl discs. The frequency response is fine, wider than I feared it might be, and the dynamic range acceptable. That just leaves the quality of the original orchestral balance to be considered, now clearly revealed.
These are studio recordings, made after a series of concerts. Incidentally the sleeve notes state that the first and second violins were placed antiphonally for the concerts, but together for the recordings. Also it may be of interest that the 5th. symphony is split over the 2 discs. The vibrato used by wind instruments is brought to the fore by close microphone placement; brass and woodwind are balanced forwardly, the reeds very 'reedy' and the trumpets brash. Overall however the balance is good enough to hear the necessary detail, and there is a pleasant degree of reverberation. Plus points abound, the final movement of the Pathetique being especially impressive.
As for the minuses, I miss the bass drum in the final movement of the 4th. symphony and in the 3rd. movement of the Pathetique. Presumably the fairly high overall level, useful in overcoming tape hiss and vinyl granular noise, did not allow enough headroom for the large power of the bass drum, and it suffers in the mix. I also feel that the last movement of the 4th. symphony is a little low in level compared with the other 3 movements.
And that's about it. Does this issue compare with the best modern recordings? Technically, not really, but it comes close, and the music will soon make you forget it's shortcomings.