Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players. 3444140.az_TCHAIKOVSKY_Symphony_5_Francesca.html
Symphony No. 5.
Francesca da Rimini
Mariss Jansons (cond); Bavarian RSO
BR 900105 (SACD: 69:48)
In the early 1980s, it seemed that digital CDs were going to be wasted on a slew of drab new recordings of standard rep, but things eventually began to improve, especially when the previously obscure Mariss Jansons and the Oslo Philharmonic launched a very fine Tchaikovsky symphony series for Chandos. Here, finally, were Tchaikovsky performances that were carefully thought-out from phrase to phrase, exuding drama if never reaching the intensity of recordings by Jansons’s mentor, Yevgeny Mravinsky. Now in charge of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Jansons has been revisiting the Tchaikovsky symphonies for Bavarian Radio’s house label, BR Klassik. If you liked the conductor’s Oslo performance of the Tchaikovsky Fifth, you’ll probably like his new recording at least as well, possibly a bit more.
As before, Jansons keeps the music moving, maintaining moderate-to-fleet tempos and never getting bogged down in the manner of Bernstein or, on SACD, Eschenbach. Yes, sometimes he subdivides phrases with little pauses, but it’s part of an overall flexibility of phrasing and pacing, featuring small dynamic swells where Tchaikovsky invites them, not where the conductor merely imposes them. The performance breathes very naturally, and in terms of orchestral opulence, the Bavarians are suaver and richer than their Oslo counterparts, although the brass, in the Central European manner, may be a bit nasal for some tastes. The woodwind playing is characterful, although the solos sound a little spotlit. Otherwise, the blending and audio resolution are exemplary.
Francesca da Rimini
is similarly well judged, dynamic if lacking the last bit of drama you hear from conductors of yore, or, more recently, Gustavo Dudamel; still, overall it’s a bit more effective than what I remember from Jansons’s old EMI version.
Among the high-resolution surround competitors, the Jansons reading of the symphony is much more strongly characterized than that of his fellow Estonian Neeme Järvi on BIS (see
29:2), a bit more pointed than what I’ve half-heard only on the radio from Daniele Gatti on Harmonia Mundi, less intermittently draggy than Christoph Eschenbach on Ondine (see 30:1), and maybe more psychologically astute than Yutaka Sado on Challenge, which I have not heard but which Steven E. Ritter endorsed in 34:1 mainly for its superb orchestral execution and sonics, despite a slight deficiency of visceral excitement compared to other leading versions. Among SACD issues of
, Järvi on BIS is non-competitive, and PentaTone’s reissue of the quad Stokowski is highly effective but peculiar enough to be
, so Jansons is the easy mainstream choice.
FANFARE: James Reel