…If old timer stereo buffs still hold to the iron-handed Mravinsky or the leather-gloved Abbado, even they will have to admit that only Jansons of digital recordings comes close to Gatti in making the case for Tchaikovsky's Fourth as a masterful symphony. Harmonia Mundi's English-based recorded sound is just as clear and bright as its French- or American-based recorded sound, but also warmer and lusher and more vivid.
Alt three performances convey an unfailing sense of dramatic imperative; all three display a suppleness of phrasing that comes from working with voices … In the Fourth Symphony, I am entirely sure that Pappano and his orchestra have crossed that indefinable threshold to achieve something exceptional. Gramophone
Paavo Järvi’s remarkably fresh-sounding Tchaikovsky Pathétique emphasizes the music’s lyricism and singing line, with flowing tempos and unforced, natural phrasing throughout. Accordingly the strings predominate in this performance, and the Cincinnati players make beautiful sounds, especially in the outer movements. Järvi treats the first movement’s “big tune” as a love song that grows more impassioned with each appearance. On the other hand he leads a quite angry development section, with biting brass ratcheting up the tension. The second movement goes at a lively, dancing pace, while Järvi’s quick-stepping third-movement march generates real excitement in its second-half, with brilliant playing by the Cincinnati brass.
Karajan's mid-1970s Tchaikovsky interpretations are regarded as his finest in a career of performing the Russian composer's last three symphonies. Unitel's films from this period - released here for the first time on DVD - documented the maestro with his great Berlin orchestra on 35mm colour film and in stereo. “Others have gotten more sadness out of Tchaikovsky… but not more virility and controlled intense beauty than Karajan in the Unitel film.” - New York Times
…Tchaikovsky's orchestration is brilliant in Gatti's lucid and finely gauged readings, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra offers great depth of sound and vivid timbral distinctions. Is the restoration Earth-shattering? Perhaps not to the extent that Baroque works sound radically changed in authentic re-creations. With Tchaikovsky, the differences are subtle and may be less obvious to the untrained ear. Even so, these are refreshing alternatives to the commonplace performances of the past, and Gatti's reappraisal of these warhorses opens a new area for debate.
Osvaldas Balakauskas' Symphony No. 4 was written on the occasion of the start of the new symphonic music season at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall. The titles of its three movements, Octa, Hendeca, Deca, correspond to the composer’s invented scales of eight, eleven, and ten tones respectively, which underlie the harmonic material for each movement. Symphony No. 5 was composed to a commission from the Vilnius Festival.
To celebrate Leonard Bernstein's 90th birthday, Deutsche Grammophon has issued a number of musically and historically important performances on DVD. These DVDs document the astonishing talent and virtuosity of Bernstein in a variety of works. The concerts are taken from the 1970s and 1980s and many include Bernstein's educational introductions to the pieces. His invaluable ability to communicate music and teach the general public still astounds as much as his energy and skill on the podium.