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.