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Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos.4, 5 & 6 "Pathetique" (DG The Originals) CD

4.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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  • Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos.4, 5 & 6 "Pathetique" (DG The Originals)
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Product details

  • Audio CD (13 Mar. 2006)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B000E0W24S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,815 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. 1. Andante sostenuto - Moderato con anima - Moderato assai, quasi Andante - Allegro vivo
  2. 2. Andantino in modo di canzone
  3. 3. Scherzo. Pizzicato ostinato - Allegro
  4. 4. Finale (Allegro con fuoco)
  5. 1. Andante - Allegro con anima
  6. 2. Andante cantabile, con alcuna licenza - Moderato con anima

Disc: 2

  1. 3. Valse (Allegro moderato)
  2. 4. Finale (Andante maestoso - Allegro vivace)
  3. 1. Adagio - Allegro non troppo
  4. 2. Allegro con grazia
  5. 3. Allegro molto vivace
  6. 4. Finale (Adagio lamentoso - Andante)

Product Description


Customer Reviews

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Format: 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.
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Format: Audio CD
I have to admit to not being one of Tchaikovsky's greatest fans. It is one of those deadspots in one's love of music that I've no doubt is my loss. A master melodist, certainly. But I find him too repetitious; all that interminable sequencing seems more of a nervous habit than a genuine means of musical expression; and, yes, he does wear his highly Romantic heart on a sleeve that seems a little threadbare on real musical content for a symphonist. So a recording has to go some to capture my attention, never mind my affection.

These recordings certainly go some. And then some more. You'd be hard-pushed to find performances of anything that maintain such a white-hot level of intensity throughout three fairly long symphonies.

When Mravinsky brought the Leningrad Philharmonic to the West in 1956, both conductor and orchestra were a pretty unknown quantity. It was the height of the Cold War and, while a reputation preceded them, no-one was quite sure what to expect. Mravinsky and his assistant, Kurt Sanderling, shared the conducting of these last three Tchaikovsky symphonies and recorded them in mono then. Many listeners prefer those recordings to these stereo remakes of 4 years later. Personally, I prefer the later versions. It's good sound for its period, if slightly edgy in a way that suits the Leningrad sound well. It's in stereo. And you get Mravinsky in all three symphonies.

He is a master of this Russian repertoire - making it sound and feel very Russian indeed. He is certainly not afraid of bending and shaping things to his individual view of the works. There is usually a fairly heavy foot on the brake before lyrical second subjects. There is an impetuosity about faster movements that often requires modifications of tempo later on.
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Format: Audio CD
Shaw once said loftily that Tchaikovsky has a thoroughly Byronic ability to be intensely tragic about nothing much. Without going quite so far, I'd certainly agree that a certain sepulchral tone and a propensity to whip up frantic emotion come to him easily. I don't think I ever heard the start of the 5th symphony expressed with quite such cavernous gloom as it is on this set nor the frenzy more frenzied, and that is exactly how I like it all done.

This set dates from 1960, the height of the cold war, and at that time Mravinsky had been very little heard in what we used to call 'the west'. It was a period when western critics were inclined to favour a smoothed-over play-safe school of interpretation of the musical classics. This had something to be said for it as a reaction against the libertarian excesses of some previous schools, but it descended into a facile mediocrity based to all intents and purposes on checklists and box-ticking, reaching its nadir in the 70's and 80's when the main aesthetic preoccupation in many commentaries was the issue of how many repeats had been observed. Myself, I am thoroughly in favour of professionalism from professional musicians, but on the other hand I don't find checklists a very illuminating guide through the gardens of the muses. It also seemed to me that our ideas of how to play Tchaikovsky were probably too influenced by our ideas of the Viennese classics, and the advent of Mravinsky in London came none to soon.

It was enlightening to me to compare Mravinsky's account of the 4th symphony with a fine modern version from Abbado and the Vienna Philharmonic. On the checklist approach Abbado does very well indeed.
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