This disc, which will play on any CD player, is SACD multi-channel. I am reviewing it based on five-channel playback (my system doesn't have a subwoofer).
On the whole this is a surprisingly noncommital performance.
Jarvi has long been one of my faves, principally for two reasons.
One, having grown up in Estonia, out of the Western European and U.S. orchestral mainstream, he seemed to be earlier than his time -- which is to say, the way he conducted Romantic repertory sounded like he actually lived in that world; he wasn't trying to recreate a vanished age.
Second, he was a remarkable orchestra builder, getting second-rate ensembles such as the Scottish National Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to play their hearts out and make you feel like you were hearing one of the world's great orchestras, or at least not care if you weren't.
Fifteen years ago or whenever it was, I thought (and still think) he should have gotten Chicago when Solti retired.
So I am rather puzzled by this release.
The Tchaikovsky One strikes me as mostly the kind of "objective" music making I associate with, for instance, Christoph von Dohnanyi. Certainly not the fire-breathing Jarvi of yore.
In this performance Jarvi seems to have decided that the emotional high point is the last movement. The trouble is, he apparently couldn't find any others.
Just about everything falls neatly into place in movements 1 to 3, in a check-the-box sort of way. One of Jarvi's strengths as a conductor has previously been an instinct for finding the moments to let the music get unbuttoned, but it rarely happens here. The Adagio second movement is particularly disappointing. True, the maestro has gotten fine playing from his musicians, and the reading is elegant, but goes for beauty of sound at the expense of meaning. It's the kind of interpretation Herbert von Karajan is often accused of (usually unfairly -- try his version of the Adagio and see if it isn't far more probing).
No, not every good Tchaikovsky performance must be full of angst, but you can't convince me that this languid, beauty-for-its-own-sake style captures the essence of the author.
As suggested earlier, the finale does have more spirit. Here Jarvi encourages his players to work up some steam, and BIS's typically fine recording brilliantly conveys several thrilling moments.
Many who have been captivated by the possibilities of SACD will appreciate this issue purely for its sound quality. In that realm it is first-class. As an interpretation, I find it less than compelling. For alternatives, check out the aforementioned Karajan, as well as Tilson Thomas (1970s sound, but still attractive) and Janssons.