> TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony 4 Alsop [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Aug 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Romeo and Juliet (1880) [19.50]
Symphony No. 4 (1877) [44.05]
Colorado SO/Marin Alsop
rec Boettcher Hall, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, 8-10 Sept 2000 DDD
NAXOS 8.555714 [63.56]


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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.

Rob Barnett

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