Gergiev live with the
VPO is a mouth-watering thought. The
short playing time of this disc is vindicated
by the actual quality of the interpretation
and its realisation.
This is magnificent
Tchaikovsky. Gergiev gives us a reading
that starts in the depths - pre-echoes
of the 'Pathétique' are obvious
- with an ominous, mournful clarinet
underpinned by expressive strings. The
darkness of the string tone is confirmed
by the support of the excellent, clear
but never bright recording. The allegro
con anima, when it comes, is busy and,
most importantly, nervous. Gergiev shapes
the climax with the practised hand of
a master, the fortissimi white-hot,
impulsive yet with superbly balanced
textures. No surprise that Gergiev is
able to impart just the right amount
of give-and-take in the name of expression
without ever losing the underlying pulse.
The second movement
begins less with string chords, more
with an extended inhalation-exhalation
that runs out of breath only when the
superb solo horn enters - who is it,
I wonder? The horn floats magnificently
over this string bed, shading the line
perfectly. This movement as a whole
is a heart-felt outpouring so that the
climax is shattering; Gergiev not allowing
a let-up for a second. The ensuing come-down
is beautiful, but, importantly, with
a tinge of desolation.
Perhaps that desolation
is to put into clear focus the fun and
frolics of the third movement Valse.
All have fun here, particularly the
woodwind; and the scampering strings
could surely only be those of the Wiener
Philharmoniker with this level of accuracy?
The gritty opening
of the finale has real breadth, implying
a barely held-in-check power that does,
indeed, erupt in the furious energy
of the main body of the movement. There
is an inevitability about the glowing,
brass-drenched end, an inevitability
that Gergiev surely held in his sights
from the very first note of the symphony.
A magnificent disc.
Gergiev is not always like this, but
when he is there are few today that
can touch him.