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Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 / Francesca da Rimini Live

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Live, May 14, 1991
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Symphony No. 4 In F Minor, Op. 36: Andante Sostenuto - Moderato Con Anima - Moderato Assai, Quasi Andante - Allegro Vivo
  2. Symphony No. 4 In F Minor, Op. 36: Andantino In Modo Di Canzone
  3. Symphony No. 4 In F Minor, Op. 36: Scherzo. Pizzicato Ostinato - Allegro
  4. Symphony No. 4 In F Minor, Op. 36: Finale. Allegro Con Fuoco
  5. Francesco da Rimini, op.32: Andante Lugubre - Allegro Vivo - Andante Cantabile Non Troppo - Allegro Vivo


Product Details

  • Orchestra: New York Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
  • Composer: Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky
  • Audio CD (May 14, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001GD7
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,544 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Don't let the long timings on this recording scare you. This is recording is from Bernsteins later and more experirimental late era, the same that gave us a 58 minute version of the Tchaikovsky 6th and a 53 minute version of the Sibelius 2nd. While ones first thought is that this is going to be a long performance, forget about that. This live recorded version of Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic is a wonderful journey. Some of the outbursts in the first movement alone are earth shattering contrasted by moments of tenderness and reflection. The tempo also gives the New York principals a chance to do some very good playing. The more I listen to this version of this first movement (about 21 minutes) the more I find in it. This is in part to the exceptional recorded sound which is true of the entire disc. The second movement is filled with longing and nostalgia. I think of all the movements that can benefit from going at a much reduced tempo it is this second movement. It just seems to make more sense this way. It's pure Tchaikovsky. The third movement is a total change in direction, but not a startling one. For those of you unfamiliar this movement is the shortest and written nearly entirely for strings in pizzicato (plucked strings) with a middle section (and again at the end) for woodwinds and horn. Its a fascinating movement and great lead in to the opening crash of the finale. Again at the reduced tempo reveals much of the finale that would otherwise might go unheard. But fear not. Bernstein brings it all together at the end when the tempo picks up speed for a last charge at the end of the finale leaving the listener very satified. If you have never heard the Tchaikovsky 4th this would be a great introduction to it.Read more ›
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Really, I don't know where to begin when it comes to singing my prasies of this particular cd. Having well over a dozen recordings of its just so hard to find the right balance in tempo during the finale of the first movement. Here, Bernstein achieves the pain, drama, and flair perfectly. The low brass and bass really make it sound like you've been taken out for an emotional gutting. Its powerful.

The symphony as a whole it tremendous - the tempos, while slow, really seem to just FIT this symphony altogether. The opening movement majestic and tragic without dragging. The second movement andante peaceful even hopeful. The third movement pizzicato is playful. The finale is clean, crisp, and wonderful colors explode from an engaged percussion section.

Francesca Da Rimini - this was my first exposure to such a powerful piece of music and have since bought versions by Barenboim and Muti. Also, i have Mravinsky performing this on DVD as well. And my assessment is i enjoy Bernstein's more dramatic effect toward the end as well. If this piece is based upon Dante's Inferno or a part of it, If I am not mistaken - then by god - play it as if it is the end of the world and we're being whisked away to the fiery pits of hell. He achieves that effect in the end - just listen to it and you will know what i mean. The other performances are too fast and too hard to listen to tempo wise during the dramatic climax at the end. I had no idea where any of the other conductors were going with the piece. With Bernstein, it just worked!!!
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Many other reviewers here have mentioned the slow tempo adopted on this recording by Bernstein. I have always felt that there's more to this symphony than the mainstream approach can bring out. Therefore, I was curious to find out what Bernstein was doing here. I must confess that I was disappointed. Bernstein's approach does not add any new depth to the work, nor does this approach make the symphony sound more like a whole than the mainstream approach. The orchestra plays very well and the performance on the whole is respectable but at times the slow pace made the playing sound awkward in my view. If I had the choice: karajan vs. bernstein, I'd choose Karajan (the 70's version). My favourite version of this symphony is Ozawa/Boston. I also like Abbado's version (the DG label). I do not like Gergiev's version with the VPO that much; find it too dark and exaggerated. I have not heard Mravinsky.

The recording of Francesca da Rimini on this CD is very good but I prefer Pletnev's version on the DG label.
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The general consensus is that Bernstein's later DG recordings are always controversial because the performances became slower and display more self-indulgence from the great conductor. However, this is what makes old familiar warhorses sound like new, and Bernstein's interpretations always work in my opinion.

Here is Tchaikovsky's Fourth, a recording that will always have its proponents and detractors. This must be one of the longest, if not THE longest, performance of this great symphony ever. However, it never feels as though it drags, and Bernstein always keeps the blood running by providing exciting climaxes replete with strong brass and timpani. If you are a fan of percussion, this is a recording that is not to be missed. The first movement provides thumping timpani, and the Finale contains the best cymbal recording in my entire collection of over 500 classical CD's! The cymbals come crashing in very loud and clear, and you can hear the bass drum that accompanies it prominently, with demonstration quality sound!

Overall, this is a very powerful interpretation that is helped by adding weight in the form of slower tempi, as this gives the recording an epic feel. The string tone is absolutely gorgeous, and the climaxes are true climaxes, unlike many other recordings of this work I have heard. Fortissimos are always true fortissimos under Bernstein's direction, which is a must for someone like me who enjoys extreme dynamic ranges. Just listen to the way the tension builds in the second movement, and one instantly realizes that Bernstein always gave everything he had to a piece. The third movement is appropriately light and playful, contrasted beautifully by the cymbal crash that opens the Finale. As an added bonus is another tremendous performance of the Francesca da Rimini.
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