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Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 4-6, Serenade, Romeo & Juliet / Gatti

Tchaikovsky / Rpo / Gatti
Release Date: 10/12/2010 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 2907561  
Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



TCHAIKOVSKY Symphonies: No. 4; No. 5; No. 6, “Pathétique.” Capriccio italien. Romeo and Juliet. Serenade for Strings Daniele Gatti, cond; Royal PO HARMONIA MUNDI 2907561.63 (3 CDs: 195:59)


This is a collected reissue of recordings made between 1998 and 2005. If you missed them the first time, here’s your opportunity to pick them up at a bargain price.


Are they worth Read more picking up? You bet they are! Here are some of the most distinctive Tchaikovsky recordings of the digital era—vitally original rethinkings of these trusty warhorses, with an exhilarating freshness, exciting sweep, and impressive cogency. They are executed with a marvelously colorful, highly inflected response from the Royal Philharmonic, which has rarely sounded so good on record since Beecham’s day.


No. 4 instantly commands our attention in the way Daniele Gatti brings out the dance (polonaise) in the opening fanfares. The Moderato con anima is urgent (16:59), pressing forward excitingly, crisply articulated, with a clear-sighted building of tension. Gatti brings an unaccustomed lightness, buoyancy, and sinuous grace to the restless first and closing themes as well as the balletic second one. The Andantino is brisk (8:10) and shapely in phrasing; the finale crisp, controlled, and faster (8:27) than it sounds!


In No. 5, the slow introduction is unusually purposeful, in its subtle, precise way, followed by an up-tempo (12:49) Allegro con anima of a rare scherzando snap—for a comparable treatment, you have to go back to Mitropoulos/New York Philharmonic (1954, Columbia/Sony) and Monteux/Boston Symphony (1958, RCA; both clocking in at 12:30). The Andante cantabile is memorable for its rich subtlety of coloring. The finale is lighter on its feet than usual (though it’s more a question of precise, airy articulation than tempo) and with a notable singing quality even at fff.


The introduction to No. 6 is again both vibrant and nuanced; the Allegro non troppo pacey, supple, with vividly etched details. Gatti’s way with the second theme sounds fresh-minted, in its full range from distant vision to volatile emotional surge, and very characterful in its central interlude (Rehearsal E–8), taken faster than usual. The inner movements are equally impressive. The Allegro con grazia has a notable quality of rich fullness to its finely drawn lines. In the third movement’s scherzo-march, Gatti initially slightly surprises in the restraint of his tempo choice—but he is holding his cards in reserve for a later tightening of the screws to tremendous effect, where others have nothing left to give. The finale is lucid and pungently inflected, with a spontaneous volatility.


The fillers are of equally high quality. Capriccio italien is crisp and characterful; Romeo and Juliet is stunningly good, with not a hint of routine. The introduction builds a powerful atmosphere, with rare concentration and a masterful sustaining of tension at quiet dynamics. The Allegro is possessed of a scalding intensity, and in the climactic reprise of the love music, Gatti demonstrates a masterly combination of overwhelming emotional surge with a light touch and elegance of line. The Serenade is lucid and elegant, if (surprisingly) a little understated.


All in all, Gatti’s invigorating élan and elegance is wonderfully natural-sounding, and stands in notable contrast to Temirkanov’s complete early 1990s Tchaikovsky cycle with the same orchestra—no shortage of provocative insights, but the Russian maestro’s highly interventionist style does not hold up so well to repeated listenings. More recent direct competition comes from Pappano/St. Cecilia Orchestra of Rome, in Nos. 4–6 only (EMI)—like Gatti, a superb combination of subtlety and spontaneity, though a little shorter on excitement, and less well recorded, but serious collectors of this repertoire should have both. A further attraction of the Gatti set is its inclusion of unusually detailed, informative booklet notes by George Gelles. Highest possible recommendation.


FANFARE: Boyd Pomeroy
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 4 in F minor, Op. 36 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1878; Russia 
2. Symphony no 5 in E minor, Op. 64 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 
3. Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
4. Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Russia 
5. Romeo and Juliet Overture by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869/1880; Russia 
6. Capriccio italien, Op. 45 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Russia 

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