WORKS: Symphony No. 4 in F minor; Serenade in C
PERFORMER: Leningrad PO/Evgeny Mravinsky
CATALOGUE NO: RV 10055 ADD/mono
Revelation welcomes Mravinsky unadventurously to its Russian roster with not only another of his several Tchaikovsky Fourths, but one that’s already appeared in the BMG Melodiya edition (reviewed, if only in passing, in the July 1996 issue). Never mind: the 1957 Moscow (mono) recording is extraordinarily vivid from the very first searing horn-and-bassoon fanfare. Mravinsky’s dynamic range is faithfully represented – witness the electrifying drop from fortissimo horns to piano strings at the start of the first movement development, and the interpretation offers a model of keen, but not rushed, forward movement; if there’s a better performance than this still lurking in the archives, I’ve yet to hear it.
The bass is fuller but boomier than on the BMG issue, which otherwise scores with less abrupt fades at the end of movements and a more respectable gap between them. A 1949 Serenade for Strings also features in the BMG edition, but it was recorded a week later and sounds noisier, if more brilliant. This one features the oddity of an extra unison at the end of the first movement that Tchaikovsky could never have intended. David Nice