Another superb release
from Australia. This is another Eloquence
disc including recordings receiving
their first international release on
CD and they are very, very welcome.
Whilst Maazel’s set of the Tchaikovsky
symphonies have been released and re-released
over and over again, this recording
of the third suite has, until now, never
seen the light of day.
of Tchaikovsky are well known: bold,
romantic, and totally idiomatic, and
this performance of the third suite
is cast in this vein. The glorious string
tone of this aristocratic orchestra
is wonderfully captured in the warm,
clear acoustic of the now lamented Sofiensaal,
Decca’s favourite recording location
in that city until it was consumed by
fire a few years ago.
Tchaikovsky wrote his
four suites fairly close together, between
Symphonies 4 and 5. They were somewhat
of an experiment, as he was basically
a composer of the theatre, and found
symphonic form something of a strait-jacket.
By not titling these Suites as Symphonies,
he could let his imagination run and
not feel constrained by form. As it
turned out, all four works could pass
as Symphonies up to a point. They can
give as much musical satisfaction to
the listener as the more formal works.
The Third Suite has
a sonata form first movement, a waltz
(typically Tchaikovskian), a Scherzo
and finally the great Theme and Variations,
which until recent years, almost lead
a completely separate life of its own.
Let me advise you, that if you are only
aware of the last movement, the others
are certainly its equal and very well
The coupling is of
what is possibly the best known of the
four suites and seeing the names of
Ansermet and the Suisse Romande made
me wonder how the two performances would
sit together. I need not have been concerned;
I remembered Ansermet’s superb interpretations
of the three Tchaikovsky ballets by
these forces. Although the Victoria
Hall acoustic is marginally drier, Ansermet’s
long experience with ballet brings enormous
dividends to his readings of the suites.
Tchaikovsky was a lifelong
fan of the works of Mozart and in Russia
in the mid-to late- eighties were very
much less well known than they are today.
Tchaikovsky wrote his fourth suite Mozartiana
as a pastiche in the style of Mozart
in the hope that Russian audiences of
the day might develop an appetite for
Mozart’s works. I have been unable to
find any independent confirmation that
this happened, but it makes a nice story.
This Eloquence release
is another from the Australian Division
of Universal. It should make the European
arm of the company sit up and take notice.
I have recently reviewed about half
a dozen of these Eloquence discs, and
making up an order of at least four
would be no problem. The four discs
inclusive of air freight from Australia
and delivery within one week will set
you back the equivalent of just over
a couple of mid-price releases at the
local record store. It’s a bargain of
a lifetime. There is no need to delay,
only extreme enjoyment awaits you.