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Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos 1-3

Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos 1-3

9 Oct 2012
3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos 1-3
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  • Sample this album
    Title by Artist
    0:00 / 0:00
1
12:00
Album Only
2
12:06
Album Only
3
7:13
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4
12:09
Album Only
5
11:58
Album Only
6
7:15
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7
5:35
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8
9:41
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Disc 2
1
14:52
Album Only
2
7:20
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3
10:33
Album Only
4
5:50
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5
9:20
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 9 Oct. 2012
  • Release Date: 9 Oct. 2012
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: LSO Live
  • Copyright: (C) 2012 London Symphony Orchestra
  • Total Length: 2:05:52
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B0096CYER8
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 109,490 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve VINE VOICE on 3 Oct. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I thought I was going deaf. I'd put the first disc in the player, listening to the SACD layer, and could barely hear anything. I cranked up the volume - a bit better. Raising the volume a lot, at last things are audible. Why such a low level? I've gradually accumulated a fair number of hybrid SACDs over the years but have never had to increase the playback level so much. But even at audible levels, the sound is dry and seems to sap the life out of the first two symphonies. I couldn't work out whether it was the orchestra, the conductor, the recording, or all three that took the enjoyment out of listening to these tuneful early symphonies of Tchaikovsky.

Just in case it was me, or my equipment, I immediately followed up by listening to the 1st symphony as recorded (also live) on the other side of the Thames by the L.P.O. under Jurowski on the LPO label. What a difference! The orchestral playing is superb, pointed woodwinds playing with character, the whole experience completely engaging, a band clearly enjoying itself. The sound quality is top class (you wouldn't know it was the Festival Hall), plenty of immediacy and space. The second symphony under Gergiev didn't do much for me either. Neither is a 'bad' performance, but there are so much better ones out there. This time I compared with Giulini's recording with the Philharmonia on EMI. Again the recording is far more immediate and open. And it was made in 1956! The performance is compelling, the orchestra on absolutely top form, playful woodwind, strings really biting, especially in the final movement, the whole thing rhythmically tight. Terrific.

The second disc improves somewhat. I enjoyed the performance of the third ('Polish') symphony very much.
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Format: Audio CD
This mid-price twofer gives collectors an alternative to the standard recommendations for the first three Tchaikovsky symphonies. On the basis of sound alone, Gergiev's new set surpasses the decades-old Dorati and Markevtich performances on Philips and Mercury. As it happens, the LSO plays on all three; here it is in top form, which wasn't necessarily true on the older releases. The first three symphonies are imperfect works, full of beauty but garrulous and displaying Tchaikovsky's struggle to master the long form of the symphony with its requirement for tight development of themes - at times, we are in the world of the ballet or orchestral suite instead. I'm always on the lookout for revelatory readings of these works, which are rare. Let me give my impression of Gergiev's interpretations.

Sym. 1 "Winter Dreams" - B+/A-

For years the standard recommendation for a stand-alone version has been the young Michael Tilson Thomas with the Boston Sym. on DG, a reading that is refined, polished, a bit lacking in energy, and decidedly balletic. I prefer Bernstein's more ebullient, vigorous version with the New York Phil. on Sony (to be found in the complete symphonies or a deleted Royal Edition CD). In the first movement Gergiev comes closer to MTT in balletic mood and intimacy. His overall timing of 12:00 makes the pacing veer towards the grand; this is a difficult movement to find a convincing tempo for, but I wish that Gergiev were half a minute faster. Even so, the playing is beautiful, the phrasing full of character, as you'd expect.

The second movement, marked "slow and singing" (Adagio cantabile), is also given a refined reading, reminding me that one of Gergiev's strengths is slow, soft music.
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Format: Audio CD
I haven't been a big fan of some of Valery Gergiev's recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra on their LSO label. For example their recording of Prokofiev's seven symphonies did nothing for me, but on the strength of some reviews I decided to try this two disc set of Tchaikovsky's first three symphonies. Gergiev and the LSO recorded them live in 2011 and I have to say in this case I was not disappointed. Their performances of all three symphonies are excellent, especially the Third Symphony ("The Polish"), which was recorded at the Tonhalle in Zurich. Symphonies One and Two were recorded at the Barbican and show as far as Tchaikovsky is concerned Valery Gergiev knows what he is doing.
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Very well recorded. Excellent interpretations with no trace of the modern tendency for conductors to take works of the romantic era
at disconcertingly up-tempo speeds, a practice which robs such works of their emotional appeal. Commendable performances on this CD.
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I saw the 2 London concerts at which symphonies 1 and 2 were recorded, and I can really say that this is as good as being in the hall. Excellent quality sound, even on my iPod.

Bargain price for what really is a great collection of recordings. Shame the LSO didn't do the whole cycle as planned (the Mariinsky got in there first).

Definitely recommend.
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I am an enormous admirer of both Gergiev and the LSO heard in performance in a hall. Heard on these discs, terrible; muffled as though played through muslin. It's not the fault of playback electronics, my system is very good. To get some idea of everything that's missing, listen to the same team on the same label, with their Prokofiev Romeo and Juliette.Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet (LSO / Gergiev)
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