A Gramophone Recording of the Month
- January 2018
Russian trained & based Currentzis and his Russian band bring a genuine authenticity to this iconic cornerstone of the Russian repertory. Teodor Currentzis feels a very strong attachment to the music of Tchaikovsky – he’s one of Teodor’s “Top 3” – along with Mahler and Mozart. Not only does he share Tchaikovsky’s Alma Mater of St Petersburg Conservatory – where the composer’s legacy is naturally still strongly felt - but the composers’ hometown of Votkinsk lies a mere 250km from Perm – the Perm Tchaikovsky State Opera House taking its moniker from its famous ‘forebear’. Naturally Currentzis has gravitated to the mighty sixth symphony – undoubtedly Tchaikovsky’s greatest and most poignant symphony. The composer entitled the work "The Passionate Symphony", employing a Russian word, Pateticheskaya, meaning "passionate" or "emotional", that was then mistranslated into French as pathetique, "evoking pity", yet the mistranslation survived subsequent productions in every country but Russia. The composer led the first performance in St Petersburg in October 1893, nine days before his death.
Only the most exalted of comparisons to this performance suggest themselves: Bernstein (DG), Cantelli, Karajan (take your pick), or Mravinsky (DG): all hewn out of different performing traditions while sculpted in relief from them, though none save Mravinsky executed to the present, uncanny degree of controlled ferocity.
Currentzis and his Siberian shock troops have done wonders. The recent trend has been away from overly subjective interpretations. This is thrown out of the window in this remarkably unsettling rendition. When so many other recordings of this symphony are available at the push of a few buttons, it’s only right that today’s interpreters should approach it only if they have something new to say. Currentzis definitely does.
– Times (U.K.)