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Tchaikovsky: Sleeping Beauty – A Dramatic Symphony

Baltic Sea Philharmonic/Kristjan Järvi (Sony Classical)

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

Sleeping Beauty – A Dramatic Symphony (arr. Kristjan Järvi)
Baltic Sea Philharmonic/Kristjan Järvi
Sony Classical 19439786612   68:30 mins


Not so much a ‘dramatic symphony’ as a whistlestop tour with multiple accidents along the way, this Sleeping Beauty is sadly run over, slashed and cut in a hundred places and is not even allowed to sleep. I wonder what  Kristjan Järvi was thinking? He and the Baltic Sea Philharmonic made some good discs of mixed repertoire early on, but this is much less successful. Better a 20-minute suite that at least gives us, for instance, a complete Rose Adagio and Garland Waltz than this.

Shocks came quickly: surely that Lilac Fairy theme is way too fast for bittersweet grace? Why that unmusical cut in the March? Contender for the worst is the awful segue from half a pair of cats to bluebird. The woodwind cope well with some of Järvi junior’s adrenalin rushes, but string articulation is often approximate (pity the poor leader in a rag of a variation in Act I – why the half-empty textures and wrong notes here?). Even some of the shorter, untinkered dances are wrong: what happened to the syncopations in the 5/4 Sapphire Fairy Variation? There is, in any case, no substitute for Tchaikovsky’s complete score, a masterpiece of invention as Stravinsky acknowledged. It has worked brilliantly in the concert hall under Rozhdestvensky and Gergiev, and there are outstanding recordings. Even if he does a sprint through the 100 years (for which read 100 bars) of Aurora’s sleep, father Neeme Järvi’s recording with the Bergen Philharmonic definitely remains among the best.

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David Nice