> Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4 [KS]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Pytor Ilílyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Symphony Number 4 in F minor, opus 36 (1877).
Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture (1880 version)
Colorado Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop
Recorded September 11, 2000 (Romeo and Juliet), and September 8-10 live in concert (Symphony). [DDD]
NAXOS 8.555714 [63:56]


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Marin Alsop and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra give us a disc of tried and true symphonic favorites in this recording of works by Tchaikovsky. Little need be said about the music itself, other than that both works were born with great difficulty, coming from a period of intense personal crisis and struggle for the composer.

After listening three times to this disc, I was still having some difficulties with my reactions to it. Of course, if one is to present a new disc of repertoire that is as familiar as this, itís a good idea to have a little something special to say about it. I am not convinced that Ms. Alsop has the right temperament for this dramatic music.

To be sure, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra is one of the tightest ensembles that I have heard in some time. They play with a rhythmic precision that is stunning, and it is even more gratifying since we know that most of this disc was recorded live. They play flawlessly, and Ms. Alsop draws subtle shades and colors from them that are quite remarkable.

Whereas the above-mentioned are excellent qualities, I believe that they actually get in the way of these works. What I was continually missing is any sense of give and take. Nor did I find any bare bones passion in these interpretations. They were technically perfect, tonally beautiful and emotionally lacking. One might wish to take a risk free approach to some music, but certainly not a figure so fraught with angst and pathos as Tchaikovsky. I believe that a composer for whom much of life was lived on the edge, that an interpreter of his music must be willing to take us a little closer to the brink.

Certainly there are successful elements to this recording, and one must once again be grateful to Naxos for exposing us to a very fine orchestra. They definitely deserve to be heard. But in this case, I have to hedge my recommendation. With such phenomenal interpretations as Mravinsky, Ormandy, and Karajan available at as decent a price, one would be remiss to choose this interpretation over them. However, this is an orchestra worth hearing, and for that, add this disc to a collection as an alternative.

Kevin Sutton

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