Friday, December 16, 2016

Tchaikovsky, Pyotr ilyich. The Nutcracker & Eugen Onegin, Ballet Music.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 24-5-2013.
Second listen: 16-12-2016.
Label: DECCA.
CD 31 & 32 from 35.
Recording dates: 1986.
Recording venue: Probably Jesus Christus Kirche in Berlin, Germany.
Recording engineer: Not named.
Running time: 46:13 & 55:42.
Classical relevance: Worthwhile to have, but with some caution.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Berliner Philharmoniker, Semyon Bychkov.

These are the only  2CD'S  in this mega box that were not recorded by DECCA engineers it seems. It only gives a recording year (1986) and the city of Berlin as the recording place, but no mention of the engineer. For me this is also the odd one out in the box, in the sense that I miss the balletic Schwung in both performances. Bychkov it seems, does not come natural to ballet music, for this performance is rather stiff, certainly in the first act. It's distant and rather cold in approach, technically excellently done, but one does not admire the outcome. It gets better when the second act begins, starting with "A Pine forest in Winter" as far as the "Dance of the Sugar-Plum-Fairy", from there on until the Apotheosis,  it's back to coldness. So, we all know that the second act holds all the musical goodies like all the dances, starting from "Chocolate: Spanish Dance" right through to "Dance of the Reed Pipes". This he does with ease and dare I say, emotions. That part I enjoyed most. But a big contrast to the first act!
Eugene Onegin is well enough done with 3 movements, especially the "Valse" and the following "Polonaise".
As to the sound, well that is very good, plenty of detail, depth in the soundstage, there's not a single thing you miss, times the brass and especially the flutes can get hard on your ears, the sound simply hardens up when the volume goes up, and that is quite frequently. So I thought the venue could be this church I mentioned, because it's acoustics gets rather nasty on brass when the volume increases. I heard that not to long ago with the Bruckner recordings by Riccardo Chailly, also on DECCA. The recording dates must have be spread out, for the second act sounded much better as the first. But all said and done, it is a good interpretation to have, but there are certainly better recordings around. Valery Gergiev's recording on Philips, down rated by many, but lauded by me. People always forget that this is a concert performance for orchestra only, and not an accompaniment to the actual ballet. There the tempi's should be much slower as in a concert performance. And it has state of the art sound too. 

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