|All Artists: Tchaikovsky, Celibidache|
Title: Symphony 5 / Nutcracker
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Polygram Records
Release Date: 11/10/1990
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
Classic Celi, not for the faint of heart!
Tanner J. Knight | greenbelt, md United States | 01/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I hesitate to give this disk any less that 5 stars because as a true fan of Tchaikovsky, I think Celibidache's first studio recorded version of the Fifth Symphony has as much merit as, say, Beecham's version with the same orchestra 9 years earlier for rival EMI. Having given this disclaimer, I will state that this style of Tchaikovsky is not congruent with my conception of the work. This recorded performance is one which showcases Celibidache's extreme elasticity of tempi and care shown to individual lines in a texture. The first movement is a daunting 16:15, compared with Solti who crosses the finish line in under 14 minutes, and, a shocker to me, Klemperer who was even quicker with exactly 13 and a half minutes. Now I know the resulting time of a track isn't always indicative of overall tempi in a long movement like the first, but the opening andante is much more like largo, and even once the Allegro con anima is reached, it is more like what we would expect for an andante. However, one is more interested to hear that after about two minutes of the Allegro, we find that the pace has quickened to something more familiar. This undulation of tempo was a classic trait of Celi, unlike Karajan, who was a human metronome. The same can be said for the final Allegro vivace in the fourth movement, which starts a bit slow and picks up later when climax after climax is reached. The real stand out on this disk, to me at least, is the lamented third movement, Valse. The London Phil players really outdid themselves with this light-hearted, agile rendition of a movement which often gets overlooked. The strings shimmer and bounce giving forward movement, while never being driven or "showy".
Rounding off the disk is the Nutcracker Suite. It's pretty difficult to mess this one up, and in fact, it is quite delightful.
There is plenty of surface noise throughout, due to the goal of London/Decca to re-engineer the original tapes without losing atmosphere, which is accomplished, but for those of us brought up in the digital age, it is worth noting. It is also worth mentioning that it takes only a minute or two to acclimate to the sound which is over 55 years old.
On a personal note, I highly prefer the legendary Mravinsky/Leningrad Tchaikovsky 4,5, and 6 to all others, but this recording, as well as the afore mentioned Beecham 5, and of course the Pierre Monteux/Boston set are all worth exploring in these inexhaustible symphonies."