Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 7 in E flat; Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat

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COMPOSERS: Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Symphony No. 7 in E flat; Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat
PERFORMER: Geoffrey Tozer (piano); London Philharmonic/Neeme Järvi
Tchaikovsky abandoned the sketches he had made for a projected seventh symphony in 1892, the year before his death, reworking his material into the Third Piano Concerto after completing the Pathétique. However, dissatisfied with the concerto too, he fully scored only the first movement, the dazzling Allegro brillante. In an extraordinary labour of love, the Russian musicologist Semyon Bogatryryev reassembled all the existing sketches, incorporating the Scherzo fantasie for piano from Tchaikovsky’s Op. 72, to create this new symphony, first performed in Moscow in 1957. The reconstruction might not possess the focus and intensity of the Pathétique, but here Neeme Järvi and the London Philharmonic give it a rare and committed airing, demonstrating the intelligence of Bogatryryev’s original scoring and more particularly his reorchestration of the piano part in the first movement, the highlight of the symphony, showing Tchaikovsky in exuberant mood. This is well coupled with a fine performance by the Australian pianist Geoffrey Tozer of the Third Concerto (as much as Tchaikovsky completed, that is), enabling immediate comparisons. For my money, at least, nothing in the symphony can match the alternate wit and lyrical grace of the solo entries in the concertos, never mind the tight cadenza, whose headiness is ably conveyed by Tozer. William Humphreys-Jones