Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Farewell of the Guests - Waltz (from: Swan Lake) [7:20]
Waltz (from: Swan Lake) [7:25]
Waltz (from: Eugene Onegin) [6:19]
Waltz (from: Sleeping Beauty) [4:51]
Entr'acte (waltz) (from: Hamlet, op.67b) [3:50]
Waltz of the Snowflakes (from: The Nutcracker) [4:00]
Waltz of the Flowers (from: The Nutcracker) [6:53]
Final Waltz and Apotheosis (from: The Nutcracker) [3:47]
Waltz (Allegro moderato) (from: Symphony no.5) [6:31]
Allegro con grazia (from: Symphony no.6) [7:58]
Moderato - Tempo di valse (from: Serenade in C, for strings) [3:53]
New York Philharmonic/Kurt Masur
rec. Avery Fisher Hall, New York, November 1994, live. DDD
WARNER CLASSICS APEX 2564 65935-4 [62:48]
These recordings originally appeared on Teldec in 1995, on a CD mysteriously entitled 'Pas de Deux'. The most likely market for this disc will be found among relative newcomers to art music. There really is no better place to start than with Tchaikovsky and his infallible ability to write superbly melodic music of immortal beauty - in this case, in the form of a waltz. The eleven heard here come not only from the famous ballets, but also from his last two Symphonies, the haunting Serenade in C and the rarer incidental music to Hamlet.
True, there exists a school of thought which says that it is possible to have too many waltzes, and indeed even that a single waltz is too many if played by André Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra. If an exception should be made for anyone, it must be not for 'waltz king' Johann Strauss but for Tchaikovsky. Certainly, there can be no demurring against the great Nutcracker waltzes, and that is already a quarter of the disc safely enjoyed without a second's boredom, especially when the New York Philharmonic are playing, and Kurt Masur is their conductor. Masur has huge experience performing Tchaikovsky, not least his recordings of the Symphonies for Teldec in the early Nineties with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Sadly, his ill health is likely to end his conducting days in the near future, but in 1994 he was still in his prime - as this programme testifies.
These are re-mastered recordings: consequently the audio is, in that regard, more than satisfactory, with a particularly impressive spatial ambience. As for these being live recordings, as the CD states, it is actually quite difficult to tell - for better or for worse, nearly all traces of audience have been carefully edited out.
The booklet notes are rudimentary, to say the least - there are none. Buyers must be satisfied with a track-listing and a few technical details. As they are unlikely to be knowledgeable, dedicated collectors, surely Warner might have included a few lines about the music, if for no other reason than to encourage further enquiry that leads to sales. The good news is that the patient surfer will find this CD online for under £5, which makes it an affordable gift for a loved one keen to escape the clamour and trinketry of pop and discover what real music sounds like.
Collected reviews and contact at artmusicreviews.co.uk
An affordable gift for a loved one keen to escape the clamour and trinketry of pop and discover what real music sounds like.