Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Vladimir Jurowski, London Philharmonic Orchestra|
Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 1 "Winter Daydreams" & 6 "Pathétique"
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For good and ill, Jurowski's Tchaikovsky is light and elegan
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 10/02/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The rise of in-house record labels has become quite strong among British orchestras. The London Sym. leads the way, capitalizing on star conductors like Sir Colin Davis and Valergy Gergiev. But the young head of the London Phil., Vladimir Jurowski, is making waves, and the LPO's label has begun to feature him. Jurowski, who is the son of an established Russian conductor, Mikhail Jurowski, is more precise and cooler than our usual image of Russian musical temperament. Here he gets to display the full range of possibilities in Tchaikovsky's first and last symphonies. Is he the next big thing?
If so, "Big" would have to be scaled back to include a less passionate approach to Tchaikovsky, because his new "Winter Dreams" is as elegant as the famous one from a young Michael Tilson Thomas and the Boston Sym. on DG. The accent is on balance and rhythmic snap, which works very well in a symphonic work that is attractive but garrulous. Without inflating the lovely melodies that infuse the Tchaikovsky First, Jurowski is able to make the score seem vibrantly alive and pulsing. The London Phil. plays very well, and through discreet spotlighting of woodwind solos, the engineers provide a very appealing sound picture. Jurowski is touching in the second movement Adagio cantabile, also, although I wanted more weighty and pomp in the finale. In its compact, stylish vein, there have been no recent rivals to this one, which erases all memories of clumsy, overstated interpretations that were the norm in the Soviet era.
If this is "new Russian" conducting, what will happen to the sweeping passions of the 'Pathetique'? Stylishness isn't enough in such a work, where depth of expression is all. Jurowski has no intention of competing on those grounds. He keeps to the same precise, compact style as in "Winter Dreams." the pervasive melancholy of the first and last movements isn't amplified into tragedy. Almost shockingly, this reading treats even the most sweeping, passionate music lightly. that may make the 'Pathetique' more palatable to positive thinkers, but it denies the composer any personal growth. Melanchily isn't an end unto itself; Tchaikovsky wants us to feel the full tragic weight of his ideas by the end. The inner movements are light and sparkling in Jurowski's hands, which is acceptable enough. But skimming over the finale misses the point and isn't acceptable unless you want to use the Tchaikovsky Sixth as wallpaper while attending to something more important.
So my reaction is decidedly mixed. "Winter Dreams" is mostly a delight, while the Sixth is mostly a disappointment."
The best "Winter Daydreams" I've ever heard, and No 6 good t
B. G. Reinhart | Houston, TX | 11/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"People tend to treat Tchaikovsky's First Symphony a little patronizingly: a lot of critics say things like "it was his first try," "it was before he found his voice," "structurally deficient but charming" - in other words, they say, the symphony is enjoyable but serious listeners ought to play something else instead. This recording very forcefully argues that the First is a masterpiece. The London Philharmnonic and Vladimir Jurowski play the living daylights out of "Winter Daydreams," and this live performance, captured by LPO microphones, demonstrates that the symphony belongs on orchestra programs around the world.
There are three things I love about this performance: first, it's actually quite dramatic. With my stereo cranked up, the first movement's climax makes a mighty impression: the London Philharmonic plays with great physical force and precision, and Jurowski whips up a ferocious symphonic storm (maybe it's a blizzard). The drama is especially evident in the finale, which is here played as thrillingly as anybody ever has. A lot of people complain that the last movement just goes on too long, is too "pompous," and Tchaikovsky could have made it a few minutes shorter. When I listen to recordings of the symphony by Riccardo Muti, Adrian Leaper, and Valery Gergiev (for example), I agree with them. But when Jurowski and the LPO are playing (and I've listened to this disc seven or eight times since it arrived a few weeks ago), this music feels not a second too long. They take the introduction slowly and forebodingly, then simply stop worrying about being "pompous" and just have tons of fun. Here the finale sounds enthusiastic, exultant.
The second thing that's special about this performance is its sense of architecture: Vladimir Jurowski really understands the "big picture" of the First Symphony. The slow movement is beautifully handled, tempi gently altered as it flows along, so that the great melodies seem to fold naturally into each other - an organic blooming of great tunes. Also, check out how Jurowski has the orchestra hesitate ever-so-slightly before revealing the main theme of the finale. They create an almost unbearable sense of expectation.
Finally, this performance is just plain beautiful! The oboe solo in the slow movement, the lush string playing in the third, the huge bass drum sound in the finale (which rattled my concrete floor), all captured in great sound. And the fact that this live performance was recorded in a single take is evidence of one of the very best orchestras in the world at the top of its form.
The performance of the Sixth Symphony is also excellent, though it is not special, and it's certainly not the main attraction on this album. There is nothing wrong with it per se - and indeed, the second movement is very graceful, the third quick and fierce, and the cataclysmic thunder-clap in the first movement quite terrifying - but in digital sound I still prefer the recording by Christoph Eschenbach and the Philadelphia Orchestra, released last year. I will nevertheless be returning to this recording often; it's not going to be your favorite, but it is certainly very good.
In a way it's duplicitous of me to write this review for Amazon, since I've already written a (quite long) professional review of this album for the website MusicWeb (due for publication mid-November). Those who want more information before making a purchase should visit that site or ClassicsToday, where David Hurwitz quite rightly gave this album a 10/10. But if you are in the market for a recording of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1, stop reading now and buy this album. It is uniquely enthusiastic, spectacularly beautiful, by turns thrilling and heartfelt, all captured in sumptuous sound before a live audience. Boy, do I wish I had been there that night. But now, in a sense, I am, and you can be too.
P.S. Do some comparison-shopping. I was able to find a new copy from the United Kingdom for $13."