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Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4; Francesca da Rimini

Notes & Reviews:

Sunday Times
These thrillingly temperamental accounts of much-recorded music gain from the frisson of live performance. In Francesca, the young conductor revels in the Wagnerian chromaticism, evidently inspired by Tristan und Isolde; and in the symphony, the orchestra join him in an emotional rollercoaster ride, with fabulous work from the solo clarinet in the opening movement and a haunting bassoon in the andantino.

The Telegraph
Nelson avoids [hysteria] while paying full tribute to the music's lush Romanticism. At the other end of the scale, the pizzicato third movement of the symphony is played with a sweet simplicity.

The Independent
Under Andris Nelsons, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra gives a live performance of tremendous vitality and discipline, the colours deep and lucid, the music intensely felt, the tempi bold. Anguish continues in the Fourth Symphony. Superlative playing under a superlative conductor.

The Times
Stunningly well played and conducted with manic fervour, this performance of Tchaikovsky's symphonic fantasy Francesca da Rimini confirms that the alliance between Andris Nelsons and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is made in heaven...By contrast, Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony is emotionally a little bland, though the performance is never less than clean and cogent.

International Record Review, January 2012
A reading [of the Symphony] which exhibits all of the re-creative freshness and the urgency that has marked out his music-making with [the CBSO] thus far...[Francesca] ranks with Leopold Stokowski's and Charles Munch's as among the most revealing accounts of what is arguably the finest of Tchaikovsky's non-symphonic orchestral works.

The Guardian, 9th February 2012
Rather than unleashing pure frenzy from the outset, he builds gradually into the depiction of Dante's Inferno, and the tension he achieves by the end is little short of staggering. His performance of the Fourth, however, is altogether more reflective. This is not so much a battle with fate, as an expression of nostalgia on the part of one already crushed by it.

Gramophone Magazine, March 2012
It's really hard to fault any of Nelsons's choices here. Like Tchaikovsky, he is a classicist at heart: nothing is overcooked, nothing distorted; positively no histrionics. There is an integrity and inevitability about the phrasing and expressivity is always at the behest of good taste..The big moments are exciting but still a notch short of thrilling.

BBC Music Magazine, April 2012
Nelsons inspires great enthusiasm in his audience. However, his cool and disciplined style of music-making rather mutes the works on this disc which run the emotional gamut from despair to exhilaration...the quality of the playing is superlative...Live, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra plays under Nelsons's direction with precision and polish.


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