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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    


Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY
Fantasy Overture Romeo and Juliet
Symphony no 1 in G minor (Winter Daydreams)

Prague Symphony Orchestra/Gaetano Delogu
Recordings of live performances given in the Dvořák Hall, Prague, on 10 June 1996

SUPRAPHON SU 3256-2 031 [65:23]
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By the time of my ’teens I was already thoroughly familiar with Tchaikovsky’s last three symphonies – but for many years the first three remained unknown territory. Latterly, the once least-known of these (recorded here) has become a repertoire piece, and it’s difficult to understand why it lay for so long neglected. A youthful work (written when he was 26 and revised eight years later) it is relatively free from the angst which characterised his mature compositions, but it already indicated the melodic inventiveness and brilliance of orchestration which have given him (pace the crass observations of Pierre Boulez) a unique place in the affections of music-lovers everywhere. It also contains more than a hint of his future mastery of ballet-music which was perhaps his greatest legacy.

Delogu and his orchestra give a splendidly idiomatic performance of the work in a commendably live recording. The sound may lack the ultimate degree of vividness but it is always warm and well-balanced. The spirited finale is particularly successful, though in the marvellous passage leading into the coda – as fine as anything else Tchaikovsky ever wrote – like a breaking of dawn but with menacing overtones – Delogu doesn’t quite capture the atmosphere as well as Martyn Brabbins did in a recent (2002) live broadcast.

A pity that the filler is yet another recording of Romeo and Juliet – competently performed, but a chance missed here to introduce a lesser-known Shakespeare-inspired piece such as Hamlet or The Tempest.

A minor point: I hope that the funds of the Prague Symphony Orchestra have by now run to the purchase of a new pair of cymbals to replace the tinny instruments heard on this disc.

Adrian Smith

 



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