A back row seat, but well within range of the canon.
John Austin | Kangaroo Ground, Australia | 02/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Collectors who like Tchaikovsky's orchestral works will want to consider this double CD set. It comprises recordings made in the 1970s by Antal Dorati conducting two American orchestras. The works include two that are less frequently performed than the others: "Fatum", an early work, and "The Voyevode", a late work. Collectors who become familiar with these works will notice that many of them are related to the idea that man is the plaything of a cruel fate. Shakespeare's dramas on this theme provided the inspiration and to some extent the program for three of the works. In the two works that were written to raise patriotic fervour - "Marche slave" and the "1812 Overture" - Tchaikovsky makes use of folk songs, as he does in "Capriccio Italian", a work he wrote after holidaying in Italy.Collectors with an ear for acoustics might notice the special sound quality produced in the halls at Detroit and Washington where the works were recorded. Balance engineering seems to have been kept to a minimum. The aural perspective places you in the hall and fairly distant from the orchestra (although well within range of the canon!). Neither performances, nor the analogue sound are amongst the most exciting available on CD, but considerations of programming, convenience and economy should not be ignored. Playing Time: 147 minutes."
Buy this now!
TchaikJP | Houston, TX United States | 02/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you love Tchaikovsky, these CD's are a must. I hardly take them out of my CD player. As for some of the other reviews calling this CD a "patchwork" of some good, some bad performances- I have to agree, but only to some extent.
First of all, Tchaikovsky's music is almost nearly always at its peak in Dorati's hands, yet in this compilation, we don't have the wonderfully vibrant Mercury Living Presence recording sound. I would say, you shouldn't buy this for 1812, but for heaven's sake, you will NEVER find another recording of The Tempest, Fatum, Hamlet, Francesca, or Voyevoda as inspiring.
Dorati's 1812 and Cappriccio Italian are better on his Mercury recording with Minneapolis, because of the extra fire, however even the Cappriccio on this CD is wonderfully expressive and playful.
Francesca is awe inspiring. Dorati's control is obvious over the orchestra, they move as one through dramatic, lurching rubato, and it never drags. You have the perfect balance of the silent introspective torment/melancholy, and the whirlwinds of hellfire. I've never heard a recording be this clean, this powerful and this expressive without dragging. Many over-interpret the peice, and the slow parts go sooooo slow they lack continuity, and the fast parts go either so fast, you miss the impact, or so slow again, that there is no energy. Dorati masters it- his tempos are perfect the interpretation is warm and subtle, and in this subtleness, there is unbounded power and raw emotion.
Some of the same goes for peices like the Tempest, Fatum, and the Voyevode. Its hard to come by good recordings of these: they are more immature peices, but can be very mature sounding in the right hands. Dorati makes them extremely exciting, follows the composer's scores maticulously, and yet in doing so arrives at the perfect, individual interpretation. No other CD, including the "Complete Tone Poems" on Philips with Markevitch and Haitink comes close to Dorati's performance of these.
All of these peices deserve recognition, even Tchaik's "bad" music is never bad. In fact I love it with an even more intimate appreciation. Maybe the people who call this music "immature and bad" Tchaikovsky have just never heard these CDs!
Oh, and by the way, the Romeo and Juliet is also one of the best out there. It knocked people's socks off when it first came out. Sure- it avoids over-sentimentality, like bernstein's weepies, and people expecting dramatic wagnerian drawn out climaxes may need to go somewhere else. Dorati keeps the orchestra controlled and lets the beautiful music speak for itself.
Tchaikovsky's warmth and tenderness shine through the wonderful melodies in these tone poems that you will be singing all day long. Buy these 2 CDs for one great price for a rare treat to add to your collection. In it you will find music to suit your every mood."
Excellent, dramatic, a must-have!!!
R. Norton | Fort Pierce, FL U.S.A. | 12/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, I love Russian Romantic music, and I love Tchaikovsky. Pyotr had a way with melodies and that wonderful Russian moody darkness. I have quite a few CDs by him, and this is one of my favorites.Antal Dorati is one of my 10 favorite conductors (or should I say was since he is no longer in the flesh). I think he had a great feel for Russian and Eastern European music.This CD set contains my very favorite recordings of Marche Slave, Francesca da Rimini, Capriccio Italien, and Hamlet. The recordings of Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest are among my favorite versions of these compositions, too. I even enjoy this version of the much overplayed 1812. It fits well with the rest of the CD.The tempi are nice, Dorati coaxes great expressiveness out of the orchestras (there are two different orchestras on this recording), the dynamics are neither too restrained nor too wild. I think if Tchaikovsky could hear them, he would approve.IMHO, This CD contains many of Tchaikovsky's best "shorter" works and the order in which they appear on the CD is well done.If I was forced to live with two Tchaikovsky CDs, I would pick this one and Masur's symphony #6 (with the Gewandhaus Orch. Leipzig). I don't think I could make a choice between them if I had to choose only one ;-)"
Not quite the one (but close)
Chuck | 11/09/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The best, but not the BEST of the best...Dorati does an excellent job (as usual)with his conducting, the style is amazingly breathtaking - but... But this recording was done in the 1970s with american orchestras. If you really want to hear some great Tchaikovsky, look at some of Dorati's more recent releases, and try to find a european orchestra. It was nice, though, to heaer the lesser renowned pieces on there such as Fatum and The Voyevoda.This is Tchaikovsky at it's [best available today]~C~"