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Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 / Jurowski, London PO

Album Summary

>Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich : Symphony no 4 in F minor, Op. 36
>Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich : Symphony no 5 in E minor, Op. 64
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Throughout his life, Tchaikovsky described the idea of Fate as 'that fatal power which prevents one from attaining the goal of happiness'. This dark force haunts both the Fourth and Fifth symphonies, which each juxtapose some of Tchaikovsky's most beautiful and graceful melodies with music of intense power and dark despair. These highly anticipated live recordings are a continuation of the London Philharmonic Orchestra's Tchaikovsky series under Principal Conductor Vladimir Jurowski, carrying on his journey through the composer's six symphonies.

Sunday Times, September 2012
These dramatic accounts...demonstrate the complete musical empathy between the Russian-born conductor and his players in these works...Both performances sound thoroughly run-in, yet without a hint of routine. Tchaikovsky's genius - and his inner turbulence - are revealed with devastating impact.

BBC Music Magazine, December 2012
I especially enjoy the finale [of the Fifth], which is taut and bracing; occasional stinging accents provide scintillating moments amid propulsive energy and momentum. On the whole, however, this Symphony receives a plainer treatment than I expected...the LPO acquits itself well, and climaxes possess all the fizz and firepower one could want.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, London (2011).


LPO-0064 Tchaikovsky symphony no. 4 symphony no. 5 Jurowski
This 2-CD album from the London Philharmonic Orchestra's own label features live performances of Tchaikovsky's Fourth and Fifth Symphonies.
The Fourth, completed in 1878, is all about Fate. It was fate that brought to the young, impoverished Tchaikovsky a benefactress - a wealthy music-loving widow named Nadezhda von Meck, who promised him a regular financial allowance. Freed thus from the drudgery of teaching, Tchaikovsky gained the independence that he needed to compose. They corresponded frequently, and in his letters Tchaikovsky shared with her most of his problems: his marriage to a student, Antonina Milyukova, for fear that she would commit suicide if he refused her proposal; his despair at the hopeless marriage; his homosexuality; and his attempts to commit suicide himself. During these catastrophic events Tchaikovsky was working on his Fourth Symphony; he dedicated it to Mme. von Meck and called it "Our Symphony." Tchaikovsky later wrote to her of his pleasure that she liked the work, and he described to her at length its programmatic nature. He was rarely so explicit about his feelings.
The intensity of the Fourth Symphony's unique opening trumpet fanfare, which recurs several times in the opening movement and again at the beginning of the coda in the finale, should be utterly terrifying. It is the theme of Fate, that irresistible, overwhelming power that hangs over humankind like the sword of Damocles. Personally, I thought that, under Vladimir Jurowski's direction, the opening fanfare lacked drama, but thereafter the movement seemed to gather momentum. Jurowski's approach to the two inner movements seemed to me to be conventional. The finale is full of excitement, and the recall of the "Fate" motive is as dramatic as I hoped it would be.
The Fifth Symphony is Tchaikovsky's most attractive work. He wrote it in the summer of 1888 after he had settled in a new country house near Klin. The work is in the conventional four movements; a short "motto" theme, again probably representing Fate, unifies the symphony by appearing in all four movements. It is a questioning theme that expresses foreboding. Jurowski's interpretation seems to me to be very convincing. The recorded sound in both symphonies is excellent. Program notes by Anthony Burton (Fourth) and Stephen Johnson (Fifth) are very good.
If I had no other versions of these symphonies, would I buy this double album? Overall, my answer is yes, despite the slight reservation noted above.
Ted Wilks
Submitted on 10/28/12 by Ted Wilks 
#4 is Spectacular! #5, just a little less so.
Under the comparatively youthful baton of Vladimir Jurowski (he was 39 when #4 was recorded and 40 for #5), the London Philharmonic powers through these two Tchaikovsky symphonies with bravura and a brassy brashness that Tchaikovsky seems to demand.

Symphony #4 is especially wonderful. The recording is crystal clear and the dynamic range is almost too much to bear. You'll find yourself turning up the volume for the 3rd Movement's mesmerizing string pizzicato. So much so that if you're not careful to turn the volume back down, you're liable to jump out of socks with the forceful opening notes of the 4th Movement blast through your speakers. The symphony is played with precision and fiery energy. An instant classic.

Symphony #5, recorded just two months later, is everything the previous symphony is, only a little less so. While the recording clarity remains, the dynamic range is somewhat compressed (no scaring you out of your sock moments here), and the fiery energy is toned down a bit. You can tell that this was recorded and engineered by two different teams of people (as is confirmed by the two-disc set's liner notes). Still, this is an excellent recording and rendition and highly recommended.

Submitted on 10/15/12 by DanL 
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Works Details

>Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich : Symphony no 4 in F minor, Op. 36
  • Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski
  • Ensemble: London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Running Time: 42 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1878
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich : Symphony no 5 in E minor, Op. 64
  • Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski
  • Running Time: 41 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1888
  • Studio/Live: Live