> TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony 5 Verbitsky [RB]: Classical Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Symphony No. 5 (1888) [54.54]
Marche Slave (1876) [9.49]
West Australian SO/Vladimir Verbitsky
rec 1994 Australian Broadcasting Corporation DDD
ABC CLASSICS ELOQUENCE 446 058-2 [54.30]




The last time I came across the name of Vladimir Verbitsky it was as the conductor of some Miaskovsky pieces (not a symphony) on the Olympia label. The booklet tells us nothing about him. I assume that he was, in 1994, a guest or permanent conductor with the Perth-based broadcasting orchestra. This is the same orchestra that gave us excellent versions of the Barber violin concerto, Shelley Scene and Knoxville back in the 1970s via Unicorn.

They are in good heart still if this CD is anything to go by and I congratulate the Eloquence team on making this brave choice. Eloquence chose this version over alternatives they could have plucked from the DG, Decca and Philips catalogues. Perhaps a certain quota had to be taken from ABC sources under the licensing arrangements. Whatever the reason the fact that Verbitsky stands alongside Szell's Fourth, Abbado's Sixth and Maazel's Manfred is bound to attract comment.

Verbitsky pushes things along in a lively and gravelly performance that avoids the wilder euphoria of Mravinsky. He is warmly sensitive - perhaps a mite treacly and certainly tough on the first horn - in the andante cantabile. A lively Valse precedes the finale which is stern and deliberate and often impetuous. It does not have visceral blast of a Mravinsky but Verbitsky gives the signs of being an experienced conductor who knows how to build climactic excitement as well as languor. Marche Slave, that essay in Ippolitov-Ivanov/Borodin territory, is given a decent performance with a steady beat and Verbitsky makes more emotional capital from the piece than the conductor of the last version I heard (Rozhdestvensky on Brilliant Classics). It is still garish hokum.

Verbitsky is well served by orchestra and by ABC in a sane yet far from workaday interpretation of the Symphony.

Rob Barnett




A Reader writes

In your review of the West Australian Symphony's Tchaikovsky 5th on ABC Eloquence (22 April), you referred to it as "the Perth-based broadcasting orchestra". I thought it might be useful for me to clarify the situation as far as the main Australian orchestras are concerned.
There is in each of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart an orchestra which is completely or partly administered by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation--Sydney is somewhat different, but essentially, the ABC has responsibility for these orchestras. Part of the ABC's charter is that some concerts from each of the orchestras are broadcast live or recorded for later broadcast. The ABC has a separate
radio network which is used for classical music. Thus it is partly true to refer to any of the orchestras as "a broadcasting orchestra", but this constitutes only a minor part of the orchestra's operation.
Each of the orchestras has made CDs for ABC Classics, and for other labels such as the Queensland orchestra's Frankel and Hindemith series for CPO.

Best wishes

Richard Pennycuick

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