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The Royal Edition - Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 3 / Bernstein

Release Date: 01/25/2010 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 47632   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The excitement and passion Bernstein brought to Tchaikovsky is well known, but what strikes me even more forcibly on rehearing [this interpretation] is [the] intelligence and thoughtfulness... [W]itness the clarity of the canonic exchanges between lower strings and woodwinds in Romeo and Juliet's initial fight sequence... The New York Philharmonic also gives the conductor 100 percent effort. Ensemble isn't always perfectly tidy (note the occasionally slightly "off" cymbal crash in Romeo), but when Bernstein drives the players hard..., they respond with extreme bravura.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com [reviewing Romeo and Juliet, reissued as part of Sony 93076]
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Among Tchaikovsky's symphonies the Polish too often appears as the charmless one. I have long been hoping for a new version which would present the music with balletic flair, with a Beechamesque swagger. After Bernstein's disappointingly brutal account of the Little Russian last December (CBS 73047) I was not counting too much on this issue, but in fact far more than the two versions listed above Bernstein does give the music charm, disguises the rather square structure and encourages resilient rhythms. Bernstein is at his best in the first movement. Some may feel that after the superb panache of the first subject Bernstein relaxes too much for the second, which after all is marked merely pow meno mosso. But more than his rivals Bernstein relates this music to the Tchaikovsky ballets. That oboe melody is pure Swan Lake (a work contemporary with this), and so is the 'little swans' music of the trotting bassoon a couple of pages later. There are also hints of The Nutcracker in the delicate string scoring as the climax of the exposition is reached... Arguably Bernstein is too gentle in the second movement Alla tedesca, which is far slower than usual with a gentle flexibility which allows such moments as the reprise after the central triplet-based Trio to emerge with delightful delicacy. When for the coda Bernstein slows unashamedly, I personally am convinced by this approach, but anyone who prefers a straight approach to Tchaikovsky might object.

The remaining three movements are not given quite such a distinctive reading, but they are never less than persuasive. Bernstein again opts openly for dual speeds in the slow movement (for that matter so does Maazel) and though the opening tempo is slow for Andante elegiac° it is perfectly apt for the introductory idea with its hints of lazy fanfares in the distance. The surprisingly Elgarian second idea then comes in at a genuine Andante. The scherzo brings some splendid woodwind playing (the oboe here and elsewhere outstandingly good), and the tempo allows clean definition, which is more than one can say for the HMV Russian version. The finale again has plenty of space round it, a genuine tempo di polacca. The relaxed tempo means that the contrapuntal development which immediately follows the first theme runs the risk of sagging (Maazel is altogether faster, which makes things easier). The principal theme returns with splendid swagger after a very delicate conclusion to the central episode, and the patriotic theme returns with no apology, only just skirting the cliff-edge of vulgarity.

-- Gramophone [9/1973, reviewing the LP release of the Third Symphony]
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 3 in D major, Op. 29 "Polish" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875; Russia 
Date of Recording: 02/10/1970 
Venue:  Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center NY 
Length: 47 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Romeo and Juliet Overture by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869/1880; Russia 
Date of Recording: 01/28/1957 
Venue:  St. George Hotel, Brooklyn, New York 
Length: 19 Minutes 21 Secs. 

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