was appointed Artistic Director and
Chief Conductor of what was then named
the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra
in 1974 and he is still in place. Though
it is not stated explicitly in the notes
accompanying this CD I infer that it,
and a number of companions, were released
to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary
of his association with the orchestra.
It was a good idea
to include some lesser-known Tchaikovsky
on the disc. The two short pieces come
from the composer’s first opera, Voyevoda,
which is roughly contemporaneous with
the First Symphony. Immediately after
the opera’s first performance, in 1869,
Tchaikovsky destroyed the score but
it appears that he recycled some of
the music and not only sanctioned performances
of the two excerpts presented here,
but actually conducted them himself
on several occasions. The overture,
though worth hearing, is somewhat blatant
in its outer sections. The central section
(track 5, from 4’08") is founded
on an attractive, plaintive theme, which
is enunciated first by the cor anglais.
The theme is then taken up by the strings,
to rather memorable effect. The engaging
Dances are very enjoyable – typical
of Tchaikovsky, the master composer
for the ballet.
Reactions to the performance
of the symphony may be mixed, I suspect.
It is quite a restrained reading and
I could well imagine some listeners
finding it rather understated. I must
say I found it refreshing. The first
movement is well played and, where called
for, there is passion. There is plenty
of weight in the strings and the brass
display a touch of the old-style Russian
vibrato, but never to excess. Fedoseyev
plays the score "straight"
and I was relieved to find a lack of
unnecessary underlining and point-making.
I was just a trifle disappointed by
the coda, underpinned by the descending
pizzicato strings. Here I thought Fedoseyev
was just a bit brisk and matter of fact
but, to be fair, this is consistent
with what seems like a no-nonsense approach
to the work.
The second movement
is moderately paced (some may feel it’s
a shade too deliberate) but the intensity
is built nicely. Though the tempo may
seem leisurely I think Fedoseyev has
opted to emphasis the "con grazia"
in Tchaikovsky’s tempo instruction.
There is no lack of spirit in the third
The finale begins with
a degree of restraint, which I rather
like. This sobriety means that when
Tchaikovsky starts to increase the temperature
(track 4 from 3’17") Fedoseyev
and his players have plenty left in
the tank and the more raw emotions of
the later stretches of the movement
are thereby well managed without hysteria,
As you may have inferred
from my comments this performance is
not anywhere near as intense an experience
as that provided by, say, Pletnev (Virgin)
or Fricsay (on a newly-issued DG Masters
boxed set). The indispensible and incomparable
Mravinsky (DG) remains in a class of
his own, of course. Any of these would
be among my top recommendations for
this work. However, by letting the music
speak for itself, avoiding exaggeration,
Fedoseyev achieves satisfying results.
His orchestra plays well for him though
the timpanist tends to be over-enthusiastic
(though in part this may be a fault
of the recorded balance).
I enjoyed this performance
of this much-recorded symphony. It would
not be a first choice but it is well
worth investigation as an antidote to
more high-octane readings.