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.
Find out more about Tchaikovsky and his works here