Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilich . (1840-1893) Symphony No. 4, Serenade for Strings & Elegy in Memory.

Pyotr, ILich Tchaikovsky.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: June 2017.
First listen: 14-7-2017.
Label: BIS.
CD 4 of 5.
Recording dates:  May 2003, August 2004, March 2005.
Recording venue: Gothenburg Concert Hall, Sweden.
Recording engineer: Michael Bergek.
Running time: 80:23.
Relevance to me: Essential.
Reference recording.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 4 in F minor, opus 36.
Serenade for Strings in C major, opus 48.
Elegy in Memory of I.V. Samarin. (1884).

Works performed by:
Gothenburg SO, Neeme Järvi.

This may not be an authentic performance but it comes pretty close. There is no whipping up of sentimentality, nor overcooked romanticism, or ridiculous drama, but a work played according to its intent. Tchaikovsky is in many cases played like circus music, purely for its effect rather than for its content. Järvi makes short measure with this way of playing. What you get is a tightly controlled orchestra, were the strings play with a minimum of vibrato, and legato is in short supply. Dynamics are economical applied,  and thus is very effective in the punches dealt. That means that the first to the last movement is utterly convincing in its expression and true to the intent and nature of the work. I would have loved the second movement to be a tad faster, and the first strings in the third movement a bit more prominent to get that real lift above the main melody lines of the lower strings. The finale is riveting and rather hard hitting, clear as a bell, and as clean in execution as one could would wish for. The brass shines superbly as are the woodwinds. The orchestra has an agility that sounds towards an authentic orchestra, radiating an restrained emotional health that is refreshingly free of any hint of exhibitionism what I so often encounter in his symphonies by other performers.
The serenade is also a clean affair, undone of all the add ons by conductors that wanted to score on effect only. We get clarity throughout, which benefits the strings enormously. Would have like a bit more tempo in the three tempo markings of the first movement. The Walzer is gorgeously done, and that is a real treat. The lucidity in the Elegy is remarkable, as if floating in mid-air. Exceptional is the term I would use. The finale is ideally paced and kept in a tight reign by Järvi, which is not always the case in this work, often milked completely of its effectiveness by overly romantic leanings. The Elegy in memory of I.V. Samarin was new to me, and I find it an utterly devastating work, deeply moving, well scored, and well played. The occasional entry of the first violins at places in an almost chamber like guise, is so effective it getting at the heart of its emotional core. All the works on this disc are richly evocative and the identity of individual pieces well captured. The simplicity of utterance make this well know music a new experience, hugely rewarding. The energetic momentum Järvi creates has the right kind of dramatics builds in, and that is as far removed from the normal procedures in Tchaikovsky's works as can be, and that is which makes these interpretations so interesting.
The sound is superb.


Riisager, Knudåge. (1897-1974) The Symphonic Edition, Volume I.

New acquisition. Date of purchase: November 2017. First listen: 21--11-2017. Label: Dacapo. Recording dates: September 2010 & Februa...