Yuri Temirkanov at the BBC Proms
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Le Corsaire, Op.21 - Overture (1844) [9:13]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Manfred Symphony in B minor, Op. 58 (1885) [47:44]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY
The Nutcracker, Op. 71 - Pas de deux No. 14 (Act II)
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Enigma Variations, Op.36 - Variation IX (Nimrod) (1898-1899)
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Romeo and Juliet - Suite No. 1 Op. 64 bis - Death of Tybalt
St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra/Yuri Temirkanov
Video director: John Michael Phillips
Sound: PCM stereo
Region: 0 (worldwide)
Menu language: English
rec. BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London, 26 August 1992
ICA CLASSICS ICAD5065
ICA’s active Twitter feed confirms just how much new material
they’re releasing, the focus on historic/archive recordings
of genuine value and interest. Recently I had the pleasure of
reviewing their CD of Evgeny Svetlanov’s (in)famous 1968
Prom, the anti-Soviet feeling in the hall adding to the raw
intensity of that night’s Shostakovich 10th (review).
Even more remarkable is the transformation that followed; the
prickly Prommers are soon silenced by the ferocity of Svetlanov’s
reading, finally responding with rapturous applause at the close.
No such turmoil attends this 1992 Prom, given by Yuri Temirkanov
and the newly renamed St Petersburg Philharmonic, yet the long
list of encores suggests it was a night to remember.
The concert gets off to a very promising start with a lithe,
elegant and delightfully propulsive account of Berlioz’s
Le corsaire, the music-making every bit as dapper as
our smiling, well-groomed maestro. The picture is 4:3 rather
than widescreen, but I was astonished at how crisp and clear
it is; as for the PCM sound it’s warm and, despite some
spotlighting, it’s pretty well balanced. It’s certainly
a far cry from the oft compressed sonics and technical jiggery-pokery
that we’ve come to expect from more recent Proms. And
all credit to the BBC’s John Michael Phillips for his
discreet and intuitive video direction.
The main work, Tchaikovsky’s ‘Manfred’ Symphony,
seems slightly more popular now than it once was, with a CD
- and a 2011 Prom - from Vasily Petrenko and the RLPO, and an
exceptional SACD from Dmitri Kitaienko and the Gürzenich-Orchester
Indeed, the transparency and abundant insights of the latter
confirms the quality of the piece, and shows how unfairly neglected
it is. As for Temirkanov’s Lento lugubre it may
seem a tad deliberate, but that essential air of Byronic yearning
is there, the sound ample and expansive in those hammering tuttis.
The Russian horns are characteristically plaintive and overall
sonorities are pleasing.
The first movement peaks most dramatically, the timps and tam-tam
adding terrific slam to the proceedings. No limp-wristed aesthetes
here, the Vivace nimble and beautifully pointed, the gurgling
woodwinds and bird calls superbly caught. As a breed Prommers
are hard to please, but the excited buzz after this movement
suggests that ‘Manfred’ is working its magic. The
Andante con moto is a model of eloquence and feeling, the strings
especially silken. Temirkanov shapes it all so naturally, and
already there’s a palpable sense of approaching apotheosis,
that deep Tchaikovskian. swell building below the surface.
As for the orchestra, drilled so long and so relentlessly under
the Mravinsky regime, they play with rare warmth and spontaneity;
that said, the old discipline kicks in where necessary, the
emphatic start of the Allegro con fuoco hinting at a pate-cracking
finale. The rapt concentration among the string players is both
audible and visible, and the final pages - sadly, sans
organ - are very impressive indeed. The applause is long and
loud, triggering the first of three encores; according to the
booklet the orchestra did the same at both Proms that year.
The delectable, harp-infused Pas de deux from Act II of The
Nutcracker gets the big-band treatment, Elgar’s Nimrod
an unexpected but impassioned follow-up. And despite the obvious
heat of an August night there’s a taut, dramatic account
of Tybalt’s death from Prokofiev’s Romeo and
Another splendid DVD from ICA, technically excellent and with
good liner-notes. I imagine they may have tweaked the sound
and picture - some visuals are a little too sharp - but
really this is a fine tribute to the BBC, whose Proms productions
then were often superior to the ones we see now.
An indispensable record of a memorable night.