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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Rozhdestvensky’s career has been prodigiously busy - not
least in the recording studio. The second half of the 1980s
saw him just as active for recording labels. These three discs
- only available separately - represent the second time from
that period that he turned to the three last-numbered Tchaikovsky
symphonies. This is the first time they have been issued outside
the Russian Republic. The other cycle you will know was first
issued by IMP Pickwick and was taken down in London in
1987 with that most authentically Russian-sounding of non-Russian
orchestras, the LSO. That trio of discs remains a stunningly
good choice at any price range and can still be had on Regis
This Fourth is kinetically magnificent with the conductor
paying special attention to the telling use of finely judged
acceleration. It benefits from Russian wind and a towering passion
that in the first and last movements has the brass phalanx taking
voluptuous rage close to tragic rupture. The Andantino
is rushed - as it was with the LSO - but the sprinting pizzicato
third movement works well even if it does test the piccolo player.
This is not as visceral as Mravinsky’s classic London-recorded
1960 stereo version; then again neither is it as mad-eyed manic.
The Fifth goes with a doe-eyed lilt, with an indomitable
gait and with fiery inspiration in the finale which I had to
replay immediately. While it knows drama it is not quite as
volcanic as Mravinsky’s Leningrad Fifth (DG, recorded
in London in 1960) nor overall is it as satisfying as the gloriously
sculpted Monteux/LSO version on Vanguard. The Sixth is
outright superb with a warm and close recording of the woodwind
detailing of the first movement. This is diluted by a pulling
back on the controls for the louder sections but my this is
blisteringly imaginative Tchaikovsky! Not once does Rozhdestvensky
loosen his extraordinary grip. It’s even more effective
than the Mravinsky-Leningrad.
Fedoseyev’s Serenade for Strings glows,
hums and cheers with no holds barred yet makes room for delicacy
and the finest emotional topography - as in the quasi-Elgarian
Elegia (III). This is a nicely achieved recording and
in the finale even the background pizz can be heard without
undue strain through the main melodic stratum. The Moscow
Cantata was previously issued on Regis RRC 1182
five or so years ago. It has the melodramatic crimson of Derbina
who grips the music by the throat while Polyakov is wonderfully
forward and vibrant. Listen to Derbina’s implacable concentration
in the pendulum of time tolling through Am I a warrior.
The six part work (each with its own track) is to words by Apollon
Maykov. The final section is grand and the choral part blazes
- the two soloists stand and deliver like true stalwarts. The
vibrantly rushing repeated string waves echo with 1812 (tr.
6 4.55) and the brass writing growls impressively as it also
does at the end of section 4 From the Large Forest (4.34).
Back to Kogan and the first issue of the Nickrenz-Aubort sessions
Nutcracker Suite. Hushed and distant rather than
shimmying up close this is an understated Nutcracker
sequence and all the better for that.
Notes by James Murray and apart from the merest hint of blast
in the more extreme choral moments in the Moscow Cantata
these are vivid recordings from a gloriously purple tradition.
I urge all true Tchaikovskians at the very least to hear the
scorching Rozhdestvensky Sixth but the others are special too.
-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International Read less
Works on This Recording
Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Moscow State Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1892; Russia
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Pyotr's last & Greatest Symphony March 28, 2015
By owen ryan (lakewood, CA) See All My Reviews
"Tchaikovsky conducted the premiere of this, his last symphony, just 3 days before he died. He said this was ''the best thing I have composed,'' an opinion shared by many. I have only heard a very few of the 221 Sixths listed as available from Arkiv and some of those were outright boring. But not this one; Rozhdestvensky drives this orchestra as if they were one step away from being sent to a Gulag school for errant musicians. This must certainly be among the best recorded performances of the sixth. The accompanying Nutcracker Suite is icing on the cake. This recording was produced by the Elite Recording team of Marc Aubort and Joanna Nickrenz (beloved by audiophiles). The sound does seem a mite bright to me possibly due to subsequent remastering. In any case this disc can't be faulted at its low $10- price and is certainly worth acquiring by anyone looking for a Pyotr Sixth."