Notes and Editorial Reviews
George Szell wasn't known for his Tchaikovsky, and he didn't record all that much of him. There's a very good Fourth Symphony on Decca (with the LSO), and of course he played the major concertos when necessary, but this release constitutes his outstanding contribution to the Russian composer's discography. There's certainly value in scarcity, for this Fifth Symphony is one of the great ones: magnificently played (of course), urgent and dynamic in the first movement, passionate but always flowing in the second, elegant in the waltz, and triumphant but never needlessly bombastic in the finale. Listeners who view Szell as a "strictly by the score" interpreter, largely on account of his treatment of tempo, will be surprised to hear an
added cymbal crash in the finale's coda. It's all good, clean fun.
The same holds true for the Capriccio, a bubbly performance given additional brilliance thanks to Szell's willingness to let the trumpets strut their stuff (also true in the symphony) and to the orchestra's hair-trigger rhythmic precision. Szell may not have let his hair down often, but there's a difference between discipline and inhibition. His best performances, as here, offer plenty of the former with no trace of the latter. The sonics show their age in a high level of hiss and a certain want of timbral richness, but better this than a remastering that chops off the treble and robs the music of its natural brilliance. That, thank God, you can still hear in abundance. This is a release that Szell fans will surely want to acquire, assuming of course that you don't already own one of its prior incarnations.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 5 in E minor, Op. 64 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Written: 1888; Russia
Length: 45 Minutes 37 Secs.
Capriccio italien, Op. 45 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Written: 1880; Russia
Length: 14 Minutes 45 Secs.
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