Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Tchaikovsky, Slatkin, Slso|
Symphony 3 / Capriccio Italien
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Outstanding symphony, bland makeweight
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 02/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Critics were split on this CD when it came out, some calling Slatkin's "Polish" the best version in the catalog, others saying it was boring and a nonstarter. The general critical consensus has been that Symphony No. 3 recordings by Wit, Janssons, Abbado-Chicago and Markevitch were among the leaders in the field. I thought so, too, until I heard this one.
Generally speaking, there are two ways to interpret Tchaikovsky -- all out romantic bleeding emotions all over the place, and as music, where the felicities of the score are heard beyond the Slavic emotions. Perhaps the best illustration of the latter technique, which Slatkin follows in this recording, was in Abbado's 1970s recording of the Symphony No. 4 with the New Philharmonia Orchestra. While the recording does not project the great emotions most of us associate with the "fate" symphony, it instead tells us more about the score and inner voicing than perhaps any other recording.
Slatkin exploits the technique with the least popular Tchaikovksy symphonies, the Symphony No. 3 subtitled "Polish". Completed in 1875 and premiered by Anton Rubinstein, the result was the first blowup between Tchaikovksy and his mentor, who had little good to say about the symphony.
Not many critics or fans of Tchaikovsky -- including even his most fervent admirers -- have had much kind to say about the score in the intervening years. The "Polish" -- a nickname not given by the composer but by English conductor August Manns, who led the work in a London performance -- has never caught on with the public and rarely is scheduled on symphony orchestra concerts.
Where critics often poorly judge the score is in its construction (five movements) and the way Tchaikovsky resolves, or fails to resolve, conflicting elements of sonata form. This is hardly meaningful to the average listener, of course, who usually goes for Tchaikovsky because of his powerful emotional message and scintillating orchestration.
Both elements are available in the "Polish". While Slatkin may underwhelm emotionally, he overwhelms with his projection of the score's many fine points, not the least of which is his 12 and one-half minute Andante, the heart of the piece. This is longer than most readings of the movement and has been criticized for same in some quarters.
Overall, I find this reading outstanding -- sensitive, emotional, judicious. For me, this is my most important Tchaikovksy find of recent years along with Ormandy's recording of the so-called Symphony No. 7 that's available from Haydn House. This "Polish" symphony has the qualities of both Tchaikovsky's symphonies and ballets and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is a devout advocate under Slatkin's direction.
Unfortunately, I line up with most critics that say the accompanying "Capriccio Italian" is slow, dull, indifferently played, and in no way impressive. But this is the dessert, not the main course, and the main course is certainly on a par with the best in its field. Until another "Polish" symphony comes along that meets or exceeds the qualities presented here, this is likely to be my favorite recording."
A great "Polish"!
Gregory M. Zinkl | Chicago, IL | 12/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's the first mov't here that is really special. Going from PIT's somewhat goofy intro, IMHO, to the songful main section of I, Slatkin gives it his all, as does his orchestra. They really sing those melodies. Beside him, Karajan (DG/Berlin) seems clueless. Markevitch is fine, but he and the LSO don't know how to sing in I.To be continued!"