12-22-13. I first learned this Tchaikovsky 1st symphony back in the early 1970's from a Bernstein LP, as many of you probably did. My memory of those great years of discovery of classical music were filled with melodic works beautifully played and recorded. I picked up this Abbado reading 1-2 years ago and have enjoyed it ever since. My hometown Chicago Symphony plays the work with precision and respect, and superb sound. This is their norm , as listeners from all over the world can attest to. Claudio Abbado has always had a special rapport with orchestras, Chicago, Berlin, and London's Philharmonia. Never have I heard that he was the tough taskmaster, but rather a gentle and coaxing podium presence. He charmed orchestras into performing above their perceived ability and my CSO is no acception. . Whatever he wishes, he seems to get--Catching more flies with honey than with flypaper. Of course, the coax meister in Chicago history was Giulini, with his sugar sweet gentility and politeness, he produced results that stunned even the Vienese and Germans. This Abbado reading, taped March 13,15,16/1991 in Orchestra Hall Chicago runs43:33 and the filler of the "Nutcracker" Suite, Op.72a adds another21:33 to the Sony disc for a generous66 minutes of lovely and gentle Tchaikovsky.
Tchaikovsky's Symphony #1 in g-minor "Winter Dreams," dates from __________. And was premiered ________. As first symphonies go, it is a good one and introduces the composer to the world as a man of tenderness and lyricism, quoting often Russian folk songs, thus demonstrating his nationalistic fervor he embraced all his life. Frequently, composer, when they write their initial and early symphonies, seem to be most successful in the first 2 movements and then sort of tail off from there, as though they start running out of ideasI don't think they go,dry, but the first half seems better than the second and yet , when viewed together, everything appears. To fall into line ok. It sure does here, as the opening then second movement are the best 22+minutes, followed b y a clever and whimsical scherzo and a grandiose, but a bit rambling finale. Abbado treats the second movement, the Adagio cantabile ma non tanto of 11:49 with much tenderness and nostalgia. It helps me recall the hours I spent memorizing this work and this gentle and lullaby like movement as my favorite part. My wife, Thelma , and I had just gotten married and we spent.a lot of time in romantic nights , with this music, amongst other works, playing in our apartment. Ah, memories. When you hear this music, you will agree I think. This is typical Tchaikovsky, iof he is not a mess and sobbing in selkf-pity. The finale, though grand and triumphant, rambles on with little organization, but he is learning, and better things are yet to come. This is the same man who will give us the final trio of great symphonies, the 5th clearly his best and one of the great symphonies in history. Ending with the famous Pathtetique, Tchaikovsky became for me, and still is an old friend with whom I could commiserate my feelings. And, Tchaikovsky IS a lot about feelings. LOTS of feelings!! But, he is also a better composer than I thought he was and clearly the finest of the 19th Century Russia.
The filler on this Sony CD is the Op.72a "Nutcracker Suite, written in __________. Isn't it odd that the composer wrote his epic and tragic "Swan Lake," as a young man and, after an interlude to create "The Sleeping Beauty," he returned to the stage for his innocent, happy and childlike "Nutcracker Each of the pieces are delicately played by the CSO and Abbado, and the group really is a short version of the whole work. It is particularly nice to hear the wonderful, but under performed short magical overture, setting the mood of the ballet.It has all the charm and intricate detail of late Tchaikovsky and is followed by a series of 6 dances we all know by heart. Feel free to hum along with me!
ABbado's attention to detail is superb in these minaturegems, and all the inner voices come through clearly and without over emphasis or grandstanding. The "Arabian Dance," is extra lovely, even sensuous, and the rhythm never falters, as I can see in my mind, these wonderful short dances, marches and scenes. The Nutcracker", performed annually in Chicago for "Tribune Charities", after the city's oldest newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, brings back warm memories. It was our first date,and remains a special piece of music. As I play this, on this cold, sunny December morning, my wife comments on how nice it is to hear this Christmas music again. Why the Russians left us so many fine ballets, is beyond me, but they sure did. Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet," is one grand ballet I wish I could see, fully staged with a big symphony orchestra in the pit. We both love orchestral concerts and an occasional opera, but there is nothing like a fairy tale grand production of a romantic aged BalletSitting in the city's Lyric Opera House back then was a deeply warm memory, and I can recall, the thought of finding our car in the massive parking garage was the furthest thing from my mind while enthralled in the land of E.T.A. Hoffmann and the music of Tchaikovsky, I can still remember much of the choreography for all three of the composer's works. If I were to turn on the TV and find one of them in progress, I believe I could identify the hand of Marius Petipa in at least some of the works. You remember things that are important, and pleasing, and this CD is all that, and more. A welcome addition to any man's library, pick up your copy today, don't wait. Merry Christmas and God Bless you all---Tony.