Top critical review
12 people found this helpful
There's fierce competition in the budget box market nowadays
on 4 October 2011
I didn't get very far with this.
In the mood to wilfully renovate my Tchaikovsky collection I did some reading, some sample listening and opted for this celebrated Oslo cycle courtesy of Chandos and Mariss Jansons. Upon arrival I went straight for the most difficult symphony to make convincing ("Polish") and also a personal favourite (No.5). Well, I don't think any conductor can make one love the Third Symphony but good as Jansons was in No.5 I missed both the greater emotional engagement of performances conducted by Karajan and also the electrifying response of his orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic. Not that I think the most polished metropolitan orchestras always bring the best results; just that, in this case, I was underwhelmed by the Norwegians.
This production has the classic Chandos sound, airy and panoramic, but I can understand what another contributor meant when they said it sounds like you've been locked out of the concert hall. The notes boast that this is a bestselling Tchaikovsky box and it's easy to hear why, but more recent slimline boxes offer considerably more music and sometimes cost less: there's Pletnev (DG) and Jarvi (Bis) with the extra disc space filled with ballet, theatre music and tone poems, top-notch DDD stereo to boot. The Chandos design neglects to list the individual disc content on each cardboard sleeve, a small omission but annoying.
You might want to look closely at these offers before choosing Jansons. Karajan's set of just the symphonies (late '70s) is also cheaper. if you're new to Tchaikovsky, Litton's Bournemouth set (Virgin) is still available, you get loads of extras and it's cheap as chips.
Mull it over.