Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 7 (A Symphony of Life; orch. Bogatiryov); Elegy in Honour of Ivan Samarin; Serenade for Strings

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COMPOSERS: Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Classic Talent
WORKS: Symphony No. 7 (A Symphony of Life; orch. Bogatiryov); Elegy in Honour of Ivan Samarin; Serenade for Strings
PERFORMER: Moscow SO/Sergey Skripka
CATALOGUE NO: DOM 83
In 1892, the year before his death, Tchaikovsky finally abandoned work on a symphony he had been sketching. It would have been his Sixth – ‘A Symphony of Life’ was a projected title. But it seems that the music didn’t have enough life in it. Not long after he gave up on it, Tchaikovsky began what we know as the Sixth, the Pathétique, which he finished remarkably quickly – perhaps it was the very decision to give up the other symphony that released the energy he needed for his last great project. It’s true that Tchaikovsky could be dismissive of his own music, even the best of it; but his remark that the ‘Symphony of Life’ was not ultimately provoked by ‘true creative necessity’ sounds all too fair when one listens to the reconstruction on this disc. It’s not by any means a bad piece of music, and there are passages that do lodge in the memory – especially the terse, compelling idea that sets the first movement in motion (later resurrected in the one-movement Third Piano Concerto). The performers put plenty of enthusiasm into it (rather more than they allot to the justly famous Serenade). But the urgency and imaginative flair that propel the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies only flicker here. Stephen Johnson

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