Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique)

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COMPOSERS: Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique)
PERFORMER: Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Kurt Masur
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-95981-2 DDD (1987/88)
Masur’s Tchaikovsky probably won’t appeal if you prefer the customary heart-on-sleeve approach to these symphonies, but his unexaggerated, candidly objective re-enactments have much in their favour. His Pathétique is economically conceived, yet never tight-lipped concerning the tragic content of the work. Elsewhere, too, Masur is reassuringly clear and unmannered. The Fourth and Fifth Symphonies engage the intervention of fate, or providence, from differing viewpoints; again Masur eschews self-indulgence, making these severely addressed and keenly focused interpretations unexpectedly rewarding. Sleeve notes are absent, and the Fifth Symphony is divided across two CDs, but readings of this calibre won’t come your way often! Michael Jameson