Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4; Violin Concerto

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COMPOSERS: Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Carlton BBC Radio Classics
WORKS: Symphony No. 4; Violin Concerto
PERFORMER: Mikhail Waiman (violin); Leningrad PO/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
CATALOGUE NO: 15656 91342 ADD
The latest BBC Radio Classics releases vividly expose the pros and cons of live recording. The earliest of them, an unnervingly intense Tchaikovsky Sixth Symphony with Rozhdestvensky and the Moscow Radio Orchestra, dates from 1966 and is understandably not of the highest fi. But the performance grips from first to last and the crisis points in both the opening and closing movements take the breath away, so electrifying is Rozhdestvensky’s control of the symphonic drama. The middle movements, too, are elegant and spirited. There are moments of untidiness and the audience makes its presence felt, but the thrill of occasion compensates. Also included is a rather frantic Ruslan and Ludmila overture and an excellent Night on the Bare Mountain.

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The Fourth Symphony reveals an equally impressive performance from the Leningrad Philharmonic, also under Rozhdestvensky. Dating from a 1971 Prom, the sound is a little fuller, and the playing is superb, with richly textured strings and brilliant wind and brass. The power of Tchaikovsky’s revolutionary first movement is majestically sustained, and the finale thrillingly attacked. Finally, Mikhail Waiman gives an edgy but vigorous account of the Violin Concerto. Anthony Payne