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Yevgeny Mravinsky In Moscow - Schubert: "unfinished" Symphony; Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 4

Release Date: 05/12/2009 
Label:  Praga   Catalog #: 350053   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Franz SchubertPeter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished.” TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 Yevgeny Mravinsky, cond; Leningrad PO PRAGA 350 053 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 66:16) Live: Moscow 4/1959

This is a live recording of a relatively rare visit by the Leningrad Philharmonic to Moscow, in April of 1959. Mravinsky, of course, “owned” the Tchaikovsky Fourth, and his only real competition here is from himself, mainly in the form of the Read more legendary recording of the last three symphonies that Deutsche Grammophon made in London in 1960 during a tour. If you love this music and do not have that set (it has never been out of print), goodness me, your life is not complete. This version might pack even a bit more fire, as if that were possible. I don’t think I know of a more vital performance of this warhorse, although I retain my enthusiasm for the diverse strengths of versions from Muti, Beecham, and Eschenbach, among many others, but none of them burn at quite the white heat of this take no prisoners romp. Beyond the iron discipline of Mravinsky’s leadership, there is the sound of the ensemble itself, then at the very peak of it’s Soviet-financed prowess, stunningly virtuosic, and still braying with that distinctive, and perhaps gone forever Russian tonality.

Mravinsky’s Schubert “Unfinished” is aptly compared to that of Furtwängler in the program notes (which, oddly, cite the English and German translators, but not the original author). Both of these great conductors chose to impose an individualized sense of shape and pacing on the music, as opposed to the literalist approach that was championed by Toscanini and which became the standardized way of presenting the classical canon for generations to follow. As such, this performance has a boldness and sense of personality that renders it, to my ears, anachronistic. It is beautiful, powerful and, I think, completely honest and sincere, but there is too much Mravinsky here and not enough Schubert. And yes, by extension, I am making the same criticism of Furtwängler, a conductor I otherwise admire immensely, especially in the heart of the Romantic repertoire, where such an approach can produce magnificent results.

The sound here is surprisingly vital for the vintage. This is a superb treat for lovers of great, personality-driven orchestra playing, and an inimitable time capsule from a vanished era.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players. Read less

Works on This Recording

Symphony no 8 in B minor, D 759 "Unfinished" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1822; Vienna, Austria 
Symphony no 4 in F minor, Op. 36 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1878; Russia 

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