Magazine article Gramophone

Tchaikovsky

Magazine article Gramophone

Tchaikovsky

Article excerpt

Tchaikovsky

Complete Symphonies. Manfred. Op 58.

Francesca da Rimini, Op 32. Serenade for Strings, Op 48

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Vladimir Jurowski

LPO (S) (7) LP00101 (6h 5' * DDD)

Recorded live 2004-16. Manfred from LP00009

(8/06); Symphonies Nos 1 & 6 from LP00039

(11/09); Nos 4 & 5 from LP00064 (12/12)

Good things, they say, come to those who wait. The first instalment of Vladimir Jurowski's Tchaikovsky cycle--the Manfred Symphony--was recorded live in December 2004, one of the early releases on the London Philharmonic Orchestra's own label. The numbered symphonies were well received in these pages, praised for their 'imaginative spark and spontaneity' (Andrew Achenbach on No 1) and 'fierce intensity' (Edward Seckerson on No 5). With the Little Russian Second and the Polish Third recorded in the Royal Festival Hall in 2016, Jurowski's cycle finally reaches completion. I welcome it with open arms, albeit with a clunking caveat. In the meantime though, another Russian heading a British orchestra--Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic--has issued an excellent cycle, providing my comparative listening.

Of those symphonies previously released, a quick recap. Jurowski makes a great case for Winter Daydreams. There's crispness to the LPO woodwind-playing and the finale has the infectious spirit of a Cossack dance. Fate looms large over the Fourth, a taut, gripping reading, while the Fifth has an emotional sweep that's easy to get caught up in. The Pathetique isn't always consistently moving, although there's a graceful lilt to the 5/4 Waltz and a steady pulse to the tragic finale. Jurowski's Manfred is exceptionally fine, full of Byronic angst, even if Petrenko's is a shade more impetuous. The LPO recordings are warm, strings to the fore, with woodwind brilliance only occasionally compromised by the hall's acoustic. Applause is retained after most, but not all, performances.

The Little Russian contains joyous music, joyously played. Jurowski harries along the Andantino marziale second movement a good minute faster than Petrenko, and the Scherzo is bracing, punctuated by whistling piccolo outbursts. After a grandiose introduction, the finale trips along in buoyant spirits, conjuring up, as Stephen Johnson suggests in his excellent programme notes, 'the smell of vodka, the twang of balalaikas and the creaking of leather boots'. …

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