Friday, October 12, 2007

CD REVIEW: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 "Pathetique"

October 10, 2007
By Victor Carr Jr

Petr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 "Pathétique"; Romeo and Juliet
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra -Paavo Järvi
Telarc- 80681(CD)

Reference Recording-Muti/Philharmonia (EMI); Mravinsky (DG); Bernstein (DG); Gergiev (Philips)

Paavo Järvi's remarkably fresh-sounding Tchaikovsky Pathétique emphasizes the music's lyricism and singing line, with flowing tempos and unforced, natural phrasing throughout. Accordingly the strings predominate in this performance, and the Cincinnati players make beautiful sounds, especially in the outer movements. Järvi treats the first movement's "big tune" as a love song that grows more impassioned with each appearance. On the other hand he leads a quite angry development section, with biting brass ratcheting up the tension. The second movement goes at a lively, dancing pace, while Järvi's quick-stepping third-movement march generates real excitement in its second-half, with brilliant playing by the Cincinnati brass.
Järvi is at his finest in the Finale, where his intuitive phrasing, exquisite sense of timing, and most certainly his skillful use of the timpani for dramatic effect make for a deeply moving conclusion to the symphony--quite the opposite of Paavo's father Neeme Järvi's brisk and cool reading on BIS (type Q7907 in Search Reviews). My only concern is that Tchaikovsky's colorful woodwind writing is too often submerged in the orchestral texture, though this may be an aspect of Telarc's recording, which needs to be played at high volume for full effect.
Järvi leads a similarly successful Romeo and Juliet, wherein he places special emphasis on color and timbre (the trombones and timpani especially) while powerfully realizing the music's drama and passion. I'm assuming there's an SACD version soon to follow, but as it stands Järvi's CD joins the list of preferred modern recordings.

No comments: