After serving her Naxos apprenticeship in the ongoing
Barber orchestral series Marin Alsop now makes a chevauchée into
Tchaikovsky territory. This gives more hostages to fortune given the
dense thickets of the celebrity opposition. In fact she comes out of
the experience with honour better than intact. In this she is aided
by the lively but not recklessly resonant acoustic of the Boettcher
Hall in Denver. The Colorado Symphony (successors to the Denver Orchestra
in 1989) are a fine orchestra who establish, right from the first moments,
that they are no provincial also-ran.
This is a passionate and weighty Romeo and Juliet.
Those listeners who learn the work from this recording need have no
fears about a sub-standard performance. The Fourth Symphony (for me
the peak of the six numbered symphonies and pari passu with Manfred)
is similarly sturdy. Vigour and passion suffuse this performance ably
abetted by the superb acoustic. The pulse is more deliberate than some
as you will hear if you sample the first movement at 14.20 onwards.
This also applies to the second movement where it is even more noticeable
and I have to say that it comes off superbly: listening to 4.57 onwards
will verify this. Stereo separation is good and is most noticeable in
the pizzicato ostinato.
This is a young orchestra with a daring conductor prepared
to take risks. The engineers have captured plenty of attack as at 16.38
in the first movement of the symphony and in the upward blaze and blast
of the last movement. The depth and definition of this recording is
extremely welcome. The dignified barking of the trombones at 2.15 (IV)
is well worth sampling should you have doubts. Reservations: not many:
a hint of ferocity in the tone and a less than liquid fluency in the
repeated flute figure at 4.55 (IV) but that is about it.