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Symphony No. 6 "Pathetique" /Romeo And Juliet

Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky Audio CD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 17.05 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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1. Symphony No.6 In B Minor, Op. 74 'Pathetique': Adagio - Allegro Non Troppo
2. Symphony No.6 In B Minor, Op. 74 'Pathetique': Allegro Con Grazia
3. Symphony No.6 In B Minor, Op. 74 'Pathetique': Allegro Molto Vivace
4. Symphony No.6 In B Minor, Op. 74 'Pathetique': Finale. Adagio Lamentoso - Andante
5. Symphony No.6 In B Minor, Op. 74 'Pathetique': Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy-Overture After Shakespeare

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Time was that to make Tchaikovsky a whipping boy for the worst excesses of romanticism, an emblem of "hysteria" and bathetic self-indulgence, became critically fashionable. But with this composer, the court of popular opinion has proved more far-sighted than that of the critics. The power of his finest scores--in the hands of a truly sympathetic interpreter--remains unforgettably gripping, and nowhere more so than in the symphony he premiered just days before his controversial death. Valery Gergiev taps into the theatrical sensibility evidenced by his dynamic Kirov Opera recordings of Mazeppa, Iolanta, and Pique Dame to shape a psychological drama of devastating intensity in his account of the nihilistic Pathétique. He fires up the Kirov orchestra to a fevered pitch of inspiration, summoning a great luxuriance of sound and coloristic detail, from brass chorales as rousing as those on Judgment Day and imaginatively sprung wind solos to the composer's trademark roulades, dispatched with thrilling ensemble. The use of vacuum tube equipment for the recording results in a warm sonic focus, with particularly full-bodied bass, giving the score's blackest moments a vividly frightening presence. Gergiev stresses Tchaikovsky's most provocative shocks (you can hear his own gasps on occasion if you listen closely enough), as in the explosive rupturing of the pppppp in the middle of the first movement. But in addition to dramatic savvy, he grasps Tchaikovsky's radical new concept of the symphonic journey, with its reversal of Beethoven's affirmative model through the Adagio finale's valedictory plunge back into silence (Mahler would follow a similar pattern in his Ninth). Also included is a bracing, epic, and thoroughly convincing performance of the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture showing the Kirov band in terrific ensemble. Stereotypes of Tchaikovsky's music as expressing the "Russian soul" notwithstanding, Gergiev's spectacular, impassioned interpretations give us a composer that is universally moving. --Thomas May

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By John Kwok TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
This is a splendid recording of Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony, yet Gergiev doesn't quite probe the emotional depths of this score as successfully as I have heard from others, most notably in an underrated Deutsche Grammophon recording with Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic. Still, Gergiev does yield a rich, emotionally intense interpretation, noted for the brilliance of the brass and wind solos. The Kirov Orchestra's spirited playing is fine, but doesn't quite reach the artistic heights attained by Gergiev with the Vienna Philharmonic in his recent recording of Mussorgorsky's "Pictures of an Exhibition". Probably the best recorded - and performed - piece on this CD is the "Romeo and Juliet" score, but I would still recommend getting this CD for Gergiev's fine interpretation of Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Robust without drama! Dec 24 2002
Format:Audio CD
I heard Gergiev and The Kirov Orchestra perform this symphony the night before they made this recording in Finland. The concert was magnificent and I had high hopes for this recording but I must say I was deeply dissapointed. The first movement is very odd and Gergiev never seems to find the right tempo. Some parts are played way too fast and some too slow. The live performance was very gripping but the recording sounds very robust without being dramatic. The brass play very hard with a strong vibrato, but I think Gergiev lets the brass play too loud and they often cover the strings. Playing loud doesn't mean playing dramatic. The last movement is also a dissappointment. I don't understand, why Gergiev has to accelerate the tempo during the final climax.
The hall, where this recording has been made is very small and I think you can sense it while hearing this recording. The sound has no air in it. The percussion sound very odd and too hard and very close. The new recording which Gergiev has made with Vadim Repin has also been recorded at the same hall, but it sounds much better.
My favourite recording of the Pathétique is Sergiu Celibidache's recording. This performance takes an hour!! But it is truly gripping.
After hearing Gergiev's poor recording of Verdi's Requiem, I thought that Gergiev was loosing his touch. But then after hearing his new recordings of The Rite of Spring and Pictures at an Exhibition, I was relieved. They are both magnificent. Gergiev is still my favourite conductor, because he can produce a very personal sound. Some other conductors, like Salonen, Chailly, Rattle and Nagano, all sound the same. Gergiev's style suits for some pieces and for some pieces, like Sibelius and Beethoven, it doesn't. I think it should suit for Tchaikovsky, but this recording proves otherwise. But I hope he will make a new recording some day. Maybe with the Wiener Philharmoniker.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Search Continues... Feb. 9 2002
Format:Audio CD
I first heard this piece in a LP conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky--the orchestra was something like the Moscow Radio Symphony. The performers were not all technically the best, but they played with an intensity I've never heard matched, and I've been on the lookout since then for a recording to match or equal that. I believe Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony to be the most emotionally wrenching work ever composed (this from a musician who worships Mahler like a God). And in my quest I borrowed a copy of Gergiev's performance with the Kirov Orchestra. It came highly recommended, and many of the reviews here praise it highly; certainly the Kirov Orchestra from St. Petersburg should be able to play Tchaikovsky like no one else. But I also had some trepidation--knowing Gergiev and the Kirov's recording of Verdi's Requiem, I found the orchestra not up to the demands of such emotionally charged music--particularly the brass, and Gergiev's interpretation somewhat quirky. Still, I tried not to prejudge. But with practically the first note, I knew there was trouble. I find Gergiev's tempi rather odd--the beginning is too fast, other spots too slow, and some places simply odd. As with the Verdi, the Kirov Orchestra's performance is more a testament to the fact that many of the former USSR's finest musicians have left the country than a display of a long and proud history. Balance problems abound, and the orchestra is simply uneven in the intensity of the performance. I can't recommend this recording, and honestly I'm curious why so many here have praised it so highly. I am definitely a very critical listener; but there are hundreds of recordings of this piece--why not be?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Intensity June 29 2000
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Gergiev has a magical way about his music. I can feel him -- heart and mind -- behind the sound, lashing it together and giving it a sure and sinuous spine of thrilling coherence and inevitability. This recording fulfills my every expectation in this regard. This 6th is an emotional experience from the beginning phrase. The sweep and dark intensity he draws from the Kirov (what a partnership! ) rides dangerously close to excess, but Gergiev guides the reins surely, staying just this side of that line -- a thrilling ride.
Not for the faint of heart.
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