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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    




Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Symphony No. 6 Pathétique (1892) [44.40]
Romeo and Juliet (1870) [20.19]
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Claudio Abbado (6)
Boston SO/Claudio Abbado (Romeo and Juliet)
rec 1974 (6); 1971 (Romeo) ADD
DG ELOQUENCE 457 309-2 [67.47]


Abbado's Pathétique is rounded and lower key than the sort of approach taken by Maazel and the Decca team with the same orchestra during the 1960s. Abbado takes things very precisely and flowingly but the character he aspires to, and achieves, is the antithesis of stressed hysteria. There is some lovely playing - plenty of examples but the hushed building excitement from the start of the third movement is a good illustration. This may well suit if you have surfeited on Mravinsky, Maazel and Stokowski. DG's engineer keeps the strings further back than the Decca team did during the 1960s but it is beautifully recorded.

The Romeo and Juliet is with the Boston Symphony which at that time was often used by Deutsche Grammophon. Michael Tilson Thomas, whose own Tchaikovsky is not to be overlooked on any account, was recorded by DG at Boston for his famous recording of the Schuman Violin Concerto and Piston's Second Symphony. Ozawa was, however, the main fixture in Boston (and before that at San Francisco) and recorded extensively for the famous yellow scroll label.

Emotionally speaking Abbado's Romeo and Juliet is buttoned down less tightly than his Pathétique. It goes well and his natural, calmly breathing love theme is unfolded by the strings with all the unhandselled wonder of pleasure and discovery.

Lower key but emotionally well shaped performances with the highlight being the Boston Romeo.

Rob Barnett


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