Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6
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Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 "Pathétique"
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Best of 2017 - The New York Times - Russian trained & based Currentzis and his Russian band bring a genuine authenticity to this iconic cornerstone of the Russian repertory. Teodor Currentzis feels a very strong attachment to the music of Tchaikovsky he s one of Teodor s Top 3 along with Mahler and Mozart. Not only does he share Tchaikovsky s Alma Mater of St Petersburg Conservatory where the composer s legacy is naturally still strongly felt - but the composers hometown of Votkinsk lies a mere 250km from Perm the Perm Tchaikovsky State Opera House taking its moniker from its famous forebear . Naturally Currentzis has gravitated to the mighty sixth symphony undoubtedly Tchaikovsky s greatest and most poignant symphony. The composer entitled the work "The Passionate Symphony", employing a Russian word, Pateticheskaya, meaning "passionate" or "emotional", that was then mistranslated into French as pathetique, "evoking pity", yet the mistranslation survived subsequent productions in every country but Russia. The composer led the first performance in St Petersburg in October 1893, nine days before his death.
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One wonders what he would have said after hearing Teodor Currentis' recording with MusicAeterna of Tchaikovsky's "Pathétique" Symphony - "Triple WOW?" - Make no mistake about it, this is a reading of the score unlike anything you might have heard before. Even Bernstein's last recording of the Tchaikovsky Sixth, although unusually slow in tempi, indeed outrageously so, one might say, and reading Currentzis' liner notes in an imaginary letter written to Tchaikovsky, made one fear a similar agogic treatment was possibly about to occur. But SURPRISE, it doesn't!
Yes, it is agogic, but mostly in terms of DYNAMICS, not TEMPI. Most important, IT WORKS. Although it is unusual, it holds together structurally quite well, and it is played with furious passion unlike any performance I've ever heard before. I am unfamiliar with the orchestra MusicAeterna which appears to be somehow connected with the Tchaikovsky State Opera and Ballet Theatre at least on this occasion. Be that as it may, they play with staggering precision and tone, and although possibly not as fulsome as one might hear from the major orchestras of the planet, the Russian feeling and excitement they bring to the work exceeds even Mavrinsky's legendary performance. They are magnificently recorded too, and often need to be, as Currentzis frequently asks them to play true pianissimo as well as true fortissimo, which the engineers freely capture with no strain or compression.
This is a tremendous achievement by all concerned, and if you're open to something truly superior and extraordinary, I urge to to listen to this magnificent and unforgettable performance. It is an unparalleled musical experience.
Whether you will respond to this calculated, yet immensely energised and released approach I cannot say. It is worlds away from the lugubrious indulgence which characterised Bernstein's last effort with the NYPO with this symphony - a recording best avoided, in my view. The tempi here are by no means extreme and I will listen to it again simply for the brilliance of the engineering, let alone the propulsion and conviction of Currentzis' conception. The Scherzo march on steroids is thrilling, with swirling strings, blaring brass and shrieking woodwind but it's never so wild as to disintegrate. The Musica Aeterna are here mercifully released from the quasi-period straitjacket Currentzis imposed on them for his disastrous recordings of Mozart's three most central operas and play out of their skins, even if they cannot emulate the voluptuous sheen of the world's great orchestras - but their energy and attack carry the day. I think Stokowski would have loved Currentzis' style.
This does not replicate the noble grandeur and aching melancholy of Karajan's magnificent account from 1971 with the BPO on EMI; the bleakest of all symphonic conclusions here is not so much shattering and tragic as simply deeply sad. The long reverberation inherent in the recording venue accentuates the theatricality of this interpretation; for some it will undoubtedly all be too much, too crude, too overt and too unsubtle - but I have to say that I love it.
(Two things should be avoided and jettisoned respectively: the incomprehensible psychobabble of Currentzis' own essay in the notes and the irritatingly and entirely redundant slipcase provided with the CD packaging.)
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This recording is exciting, stunning, magnificent.Read more