Sunday, December 23, 2007

CD REVIEW: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 "Pathetique"

The Cincinnati Enquirer
December 23, 2007

Järvi sets romantic mood
By Janelle Gelfand

The newest album from Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra includes some of the most romantic music ever written. The all-Tchaikovsky disc pairs the composer's youthful "Romeo and Juliet" Overture-Fantasy with his last and perhaps greatest work, Symphony No. 6, "Pathetique."
These thrilling performances from the Cincinnati Symphony were recorded with excellent sound quality by Telarc last year in Music Hall.
The Overture-Fantasy vividly evokes scenes from Shakespeare's famous story of the doomed lovers, from the feuding Capulets and Montagues to the tender love theme, with a dark undercurrent always present. Järvi's reading is well-paced, beautifully phrased and full of atmosphere. When the love theme blossoms into a sweeping climax in strings and horns, the effect is deeply emotional.
The composer's Symphony No. 6, his final work, is also his most romantic, ending with a mournful finale that some say was a premonition of his early death. He died a week after its premiere.
Järvi's view of the "Pathetique" is an exhilarating mix of drama, intensity and drive, balanced by Tchaikovsky's hauntingly beautiful themes. The famous second theme glows warmly and with unexaggerated emotion, before the intimate moment gives way to an exuberant burst in timpani and brass. The waltz is graceful and sweeping, and the CSO's sonorous string sound is captured realistically.
If the third movement is electrifying, with its extroverted, pomp-filled march theme, the finale, marked "Adagio lamentoso," can only be described as shattering.
With Järvi's sense of flourish and drama, it all sounds spontaneous. The Cincinnati Symphony musicians have never sounded more polished, performing with crisp attack and moving expression.

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