"Here is the best "Tchay4" ever. Bernstein finds a perfect balance between the accuracy of a studio recording and the passion of a live performance. Listen closely to the beautiful "pizzicato": nobody ever conducted it with such humour and yet such a great orchestral technique. Bernstein and Karajan fought the heck of a "musical war" during their careers. Lenny won this battle..."
A Majestic 4th and an Earth Shattering Francesca
Daniel L. Ayala | Columbia, SC United States | 04/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Really, I don't know where to begin when it comes to singing my prasies of this particular cd. Having well over a dozen recordings of its just so hard to find the right balance in tempo during the finale of the first movement. Here, Bernstein achieves the pain, drama, and flair perfectly. The low brass and bass really make it sound like you've been taken out for an emotional gutting. Its powerful.
The symphony as a whole it tremendous - the tempos, while slow, really seem to just FIT this symphony altogether. The opening movement majestic and tragic without dragging. The second movement andante peaceful even hopeful. The third movement pizzicato is playful. The finale is clean, crisp, and wonderful colors explode from an engaged percussion section.
Francesca Da Rimini - this was my first exposure to such a powerful piece of music and have since bought versions by Barenboim and Muti. Also, i have Mravinsky performing this on DVD as well. And my assessment is i enjoy Bernstein's more dramatic effect toward the end as well. If this piece is based upon Dante's Inferno or a part of it, If I am not mistaken - then by god - play it as if it is the end of the world and we're being whisked away to the fiery pits of hell. He achieves that effect in the end - just listen to it and you will know what i mean. The other performances are too fast and too hard to listen to tempo wise during the dramatic climax at the end. I had no idea where any of the other conductors were going with the piece. With Bernstein, it just worked!!!"
Shines new light on a great symphony.
Woodland Poet | 02/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't let the long timings on this recording scare you. This is recording is from Bernsteins later and more experirimental late era, the same that gave us a 58 minute version of the Tchaikovsky 6th and a 53 minute version of the Sibelius 2nd. While ones first thought is that this is going to be a long performance, forget about that. This live recorded version of Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic is a wonderful journey. Some of the outbursts in the first movement alone are earth shattering contrasted by moments of tenderness and reflection. The tempo also gives the New York principals a chance to do some very good playing. The more I listen to this version of this first movement (about 21 minutes) the more I find in it. This is in part to the exceptional recorded sound which is true of the entire disc. The second movement is filled with longing and nostalgia. I think of all the movements that can benefit from going at a much reduced tempo it is this second movement. It just seems to make more sense this way. It's pure Tchaikovsky. The third movement is a total change in direction, but not a startling one. For those of you unfamiliar this movement is the shortest and written nearly entirely for strings in pizzicato (plucked strings) with a middle section (and again at the end) for woodwinds and horn. Its a fascinating movement and great lead in to the opening crash of the finale. Again at the reduced tempo reveals much of the finale that would otherwise might go unheard. But fear not. Bernstein brings it all together at the end when the tempo picks up speed for a last charge at the end of the finale leaving the listener very satified. If you have never heard the Tchaikovsky 4th this would be a great introduction to it. To old time fans of the 4th, this recording will let you look at it in a whole new light. As a bonus treat, you get the Fracecsa ds Rimini, a much lesser known work by Tchaikovsky. On the whole this is a great CD and gives a great look into two musically brilliant minds, Bernstein and Tchaikovsky, as well as the playing of a great American orchestra."
A heartbreaking, deeply felt Tchaikovsky Fourth
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 02/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The metronome, they say, is a bad critic, but it can't escape notice that the first movement of this live Tchaikovsky Fourth from 1989 is 27 min. long, compared to the usual timing of around 18 min. It's a movement of contrasts, the slower parts being very slow, the fast parts manically energized. But the prevailing intensity and passion deny all argument. This is Bernstein and the NY Phil., which will always be his orchestra, wringing everything out of the music that it can possibly express while miraculously not distorting it.
The second movement begins with an oboe solo of melting sensitivity, the best I've ever heard. If LB's intention was to make every concert a love affair, here it sounds like one. The tempo, again quite measured, seems wholly justified. One hears these familiar melodies as if for the first time. There is a cumulative effect of melancholy from the first movement that crests with heartbreaking intensity.
The last two movementsto reaffirm Bernstein's tragic view of this work. The Scherzo features a very slow, thoughtful second theme, and the finale proceeds without triumph until the coda, which races to the end as if to give us an escape route, at last. It's a draining performance, but I think it might be close to what Tchaikovsky himself felt about this music.
The filler is an equally wrenching performance of Francesca da Rimini, a work Bernstein excelled in, perhaps because it seems so close to Liszt, a composer he brought to life with emotional conviction. In all, this is a CD that rivets the attention and reaches disturbinb depths.
(By Amazon's count this is review #1,001 for me since I began last fall, all but one a CD review. I took up this pastime to acquaint other listeners with the CDs that most inspire me, and I hope I join the category of reliable reviewers I've enjoyed on Amazon as a reader.)"