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Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Symphony No 2 in C minor, Op 17, Little Russian (revised version, 1879-80) [32:28]
Symphony No 4 in F minor, Op 36 (1877) [43:33]
Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich/Paavo Järvi
rec. October 2019 (Symphony 4), January 2020 (Symphony 2), Tonhalle Maag, Zürich
ALPHA 735 [76:10]

This is the second CD of Paavo Järvi ‘s Tchaikovsky symphonies’ cycle with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich of which he became Music Director in the 2019-20 season. His first CD coupled the fifth symphony and Francesca da Rimini and was well received in MusicWeb (review). Symphony 2 is deservedly the most popular of Tchaikovsky’s first three symphonies, I suggest because his chief purpose was to entertain which is successful, albeit at the cost of not truly attempting a slow movement. The use of genuine Ukrainian folk tunes helps, around which Tchaikovsky weaves a skilful symphonic orchestral web. In his Master Musicians guide Roland Wiley succinctly defines this as “shifting between folk and motivic discourse”, but I add that the skill comes in deriving the motifs from the folk-tune core.

So, in the first movement introduction, after a loud opening tutti chord, which places us in the middle of a crowd, a soft, solo horn sings a molto espressivo song in appreciation of his surroundings, Down along the Volga, Mother Volga, one person as if a speck on a vast plain, carefully, emotively voiced by Järvi’s player here with an attractive blend of joy and reverence. The environment portrayed by the accompaniment gradually becomes more prominent and dramatic as the song is represented by various wind instruments, but a return to the horn, this time two in octaves, seals the sense of reverence. With regard to motifs, here are four for you to consider in the introduction. First, the opening theme itself, a mega bag of them; second, a six-note undulating one on oboe and bassoon (tr. 1, 1:35). Simultaneously there’s a third motif, a rising figure in demisemiquavers on the violas and first violins, soon on the second violins too against the opening theme return. A fourth motif, a wistful, farewell kind, derived from the opening theme, falls gently from the violins (2:30) and is accompanied by the figure in demisemiquavers on the flutes and first clarinet. I cite all these to show how carefully Tchaikovsky crafted this introduction.

Also derived from the introduction’s opening theme, the Allegro vivo main body first theme (3:10) is energetic in both a business-like and quite edgy manner and Järvi gives equal prominence to both elements. This is offset by the charm of the second theme, an oboe melody (3:50) delicately encased in a serene wind chorale, itself offset by busy strings’ tracery (from 3:57), itself a variant of the first theme. A more important offshoot is a rhapsodic rising figure derived from the second theme, heard first in the violas and cellos (4:09) just before and then beneath the briefly rhapsodic violins response to the second theme. This offshoot is heard on its own on the cellos and basses echoed in canon by clarinets and bassoons after an attention calling sudden f in the horns and violins (4:23). The second theme’s joy was short-lived, even the first violins’ high tessitura ardent take-up was underplayed by Järvi when its rising phrase reached f (4:15), because we’re soon back to a norm of the first theme’s edgy business and crisp tutti chords spurring all forward. The development sees the clarinet playing the introduction’s folk-tune marcato (5:19) accompanied by the strings’ tracery earlier heard against the second theme. It’s surprising how grimmer this makes the tune and rising phrases in the trombone (6:01) and then trumpet give an impression of action stations for battle. The success of the movement’s first climax (6:27) is that the first theme slowed down gets transformed into a tensile, fff emphatic statement of heroic quality. The strings’ tracery’s final role is to stoke up (8:38) the tension leading to the second and main climax, ff plus crescendo, in which the folk tune shows itself in maximum valour (8:57). Even more remarkable to me then is the speed (16 seconds from 9:08) with which Tchaikovsky dismantles this edifice, like a collapsing pack of cards, to leave the movement with the folk-tune Andante sostenuto again on lone horn. But Tchaikovsky is kidding us with this deconstruction, because the horn begins loud (9:25), not as at the beginning but strong, then tapers off to soft, but smooth, assured statement, the closing peace evoked by a solo bassoon of steadiness yet warmth. Järvi gets all these effects across clearly and well.

Encouraged by the enthusiastic review by Gregor Tassie (review), I compare the Tartarstan National Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Sladkovsky recorded in 2019 (Sony G0100043535060, as I write in July 2021 only available as a single work in a 34-minute download in the UK, but at a price less than that of a takeaway coffee). Sladkovsky’s opening horn solo delivers the folk-tune with more pride, though less nuance, than Järvi’s; but I felt more kinship when the bassoon takes it up. Sladkovsky brings more drama to the unfolding of the movement where with Järvi I appreciate it more as a structure. So, with Sladkovsky when the woodwind enter with the first, six-note, motif I immediately sense a smoking gun. Järvi, however, brings a creamier feel to the second theme, making it more special, desirably so as it provides a brief space for lyricism in the movement outside the folk-tune. Sladkovsky builds the gathering excitement more thrillingly, though Järvi’s tutti chords are more vivid. There again, Järvi’s first and main climaxes are more potent through their greater tension yet Järvi makes more telling contrast in the dismantling after the main climax. I like that Järvi’s horn solo at the end is notably different from the start, with more sense of song and shape than Sladkovsky’s. But the latter’s closing bassoon has an elegiac quality, as of a wise old man, which I find more characterful.

The second movement, marked Andantino marziale, quasi moderato, is the symphony’s slowest movement, but I prefer it not to be called the slow movement as this suggests an element of deep feeling which isn’t really here, even though it’s appropriately more lyrical than dramatic, the opposite of the first movement. It begins and ends with a march, originally a wedding march in Tchaikovsky’s discarded opera Undine. Järvi makes it sound jovial, though beginning quietly on clarinets and bassoon before acquiring more style in the violins with a gentle horn overlay. The second theme (tr. 2, 0:58) offers the surprise of, in Järvi’s hands, a soft, espressivo swooning flirting from the first violins, that fire then stoked by the cellos. The return to the march with woodwind and strings is then jauntier and relished by Järvi. If you get the idea this is more like a scherzo than slow movement, the next theme will also do for a trio, the folk tune Keep on spinning, my spinner from flutes, oboe, thereafter bassoon and clarinet (1:52) which is a change of mood to a more spacious environment with an element of the contemplative, or maybe an excuse for a wealth of variety in orchestration. When the folk-tune finally appears in all its glory, as a soft outpouring for upper strings supported by wind (3:30), I wonder if it was worth the elaborate preparation, though Järvi gives it due respect. I like the soft resumption of the march, deceptively fairly unassuming from Järvi as if the natural order of contented things, then spiced by flutes and clarinets’ arpeggios in semiquavers in accompaniment before the chutzpah of the march ff presentation with disruptive offbeat syncopated trumpets. Järvi makes the return of the second theme seem milder, comelier, just like the final appearance of the march grows ever more docile, as if disappearing to just a happy memory.

Sladkovsky’s march is contented and clearly projected, less contrasted in mood through the movement than Järvi’s, but comforting in that it’s orderly and dependable. Sladkovsky’s second theme is dreamy and smooth, more of an idyllic vision than Järvi’s flirting nature and I like the way he ensures all simultaneous elements are clear, such as the flutes still in march manner even while the bassoons and cellos are repeating the second theme. Sladkovsky also makes the folk-like central tune contented, though still a change of perspective, and is careful to make the seamlessness of its continuity clear through less prominent, though still sufficiently clear, attention to its accompaniment than Järvi. This means the build-up to its glory is more cogent and then the tune reveals its fullest seriousness. Sladkovsky’s march return is sonorous, his flutes and clarinets’ arpeggios more triumphant than Järvi’s glitter. Sladkovsky’s second theme return is also smoother but still dreamy, his final appearance of the march and close plain, but staunch. I’d say Järvi plays up the scherzo elements of this movement, which works well, while Sladkovsky takes it more seriously, which also works and has the advantage of more contrast with the third movement, the one actually called Scherzo.

Yet the third movement is a contrast anyway. It begins spikily: an Allegro molto vivace with its first strain ever growing in crescendo. Even when, occasionally, softer, the momentum never eases up, nor the crunching chord punctuation. A Scherzo more to admire than enjoy its unending mix of motifs and rhythms, and brilliantly showcased by Järvi. The Trio (tr. 3, 2:23) does bring a sustained softness, fastidious and enjoying being in the moment where the Scherzo is manically concentrating on forward thrust. The Trio you can grasp its ‘variation’ comfortably. First, a sextet of 2 oboes, clarinet, 2 bassoons and horn; second, a gentle pattering of first violins divided in octaves beneath; third, all the strings open melodies out; fourth, the flutes expatiate in semiquavers above. You feel that Järvi and his players welcome the relief. Then the Scherzo resumes its iron control. In the coda (4:35) a vestige of the Trio keeps attempting to return but is soon pulped.

Sladkovsky, timing the movement somewhat slower, at 5:46 to Järvi’s 5:02, has a more likable Scherzo but less likable Trio. In the Scherzo he’s less stern, especially in the quieter passages, the piccolo and first flute with racier ascending semiquavers like quips, a Scherzo with its fun element still there. And the structure is clearer, neater, but in being so you lose the experience of confrontation, even pulverizing that Järvi supplies. In his Trio Sladkovsky gives more emphasis to the accents in the dance, making it more like that of the muzhiks we shall encounter again in the Scherzo of Symphony 4. Paradoxically this seems to make it both trimmer in line and more thickset in density, though as in the Scherzo the flutes’ semiquaver runs brighten this.

The main theme of the finale is the folksong The crane and it features in both the introduction and main body. The finale begins Moderato assai in accommodating grandeur. Taking 1:03 for this introduction, Järvi emphasises its magisterial breadth and power, closing with lots of ff timpani, a final solo roll and then crotchet thwack. The ensuing Allegro vivo main body begins p, almost just fluttering from Järvi in the first violins but with very deftly pointed rhythms and instruments showcased in turn with the theme, next two clarinets and bassoons over pizzicato cellos, then oboes, clarinet and bassoon and so on. All gradually get louder and compellingly, then alternating woodwind and strings and adding percussion, cymbal and bass drum for the first time in this symphony. The second theme (tr. 4, 3:12) is a lovely, soft, smooth domestic one, though syncopated, indeed in rumba rhythm, and as the first violins fall, so the dovetailing violas rise. It gets more complex and less delightful at mf as the oboe, clarinet, bassoons and violas have the syncopated cross rhythm role against the flutes and violins. Things become considerably breezier when the brass, tired of this lyricism, power the first theme forward to the dovetailed responses of the woodwind and strings. But delightful as a contrast is Tchaikovsky’s take on the development (4:45): soft ‘variations’ for woodwind: 2 oboes, 2 clarinets alternating, then flute and piccolo alternating over sustained brass and lower strings’ bass notes, as if working their own very slow mulling over the theme. Now the flutes and first violins creamily interject with the second theme (4:56) until it, in its own ‘development’ becomes more fractious, almost taking on the style of the first theme and in this guise the third trombone and tuba are happy to deliver their version of it (6:22). We soon, however, get back to the tender domesticity of its recap with the first violins and violas again the principal melodic focus (6:58). Contrast comes again with the piccolo finding a place to shine (8:09), as in the finale of Beethoven’s fifth symphony, but Tchaikovsky’s, and Järvi’s here, is somewhat cheekier. The moment of brass weight, which has gradually acquired both solemnity and an element of the sinister, reaches its apotheosis at the appearance of another newcomer, the gong, Järvi’s here is hair-raising. But fear not, this is also to signal the Presto coda where Järvi, as noticeably throughout, can balance both the sonorous weight of the brass and deft articulation of woodwind and strings with sufficiently firm rein to remain exciting without becoming wholly abandoned.

Arguably Järvi’s Moderato assai introduction is a touch overcooked assai but Sladkovsky’s, timing at 0:34 is undoubtedly underdone. The gain is that it’s forthright and pacy power, but Järvi offers more sheer majesty. Sladkovsky’s Allegro vivo main body has rhythmic intensity and projection with gritty, incisive strings once the dynamic increases, but I miss the creaminess and poetic quality of Järvi’s woodwind. Sladkovsky’s second theme is lissom, but I feel a little too wallflower: I prefer the slightly fuller body Järvi gives it from the beginning. On the other hand, Sladkovsky’s brass power forward with sweeping bluster. In the development Sladkovsky’s flutes are chirpier though less poetic than Järvi’s. Sladkovsky presses on relentlessly and excitingly, so his second theme ‘development’ becomes almost apocalyptic. His second theme recap, of gentle warmth and presence too, is comelier than its exposition. As with the flutes earlier, his piccolo solo is brighter, but in comparison with Järvi’s, Sladkovsky’s gong of very soft frisson is a disappointment. Yet Sladkovsky’s markedly more vivid pick up of tempo for the Presto coda makes a more thrilling peroration than Järvi’s with more involvement from the buoyant piccolo.

Symphony 4’s “introduction is Fate … It can never be overcome. One can only submit to it and take refuge in futile longings”, these latter the Moderato con anima main body first theme of the movement (tr. 4, 1:37). “Would it not be better to turn away from reality and plunge oneself in dreams?” and these the second theme (5:34). Shortly after “Some blessed, luminous human form passes by and beckons somewhere (6:46). “They were only dreams, and Fate awakes us from them” with the return of the Fate motif which is simply a fanfare (8:37). The movement then, for Tchaikovsky, represents life’s “incessant shifting between grim reality and fleeting visions and reveries of joy.”

Tchaikovsky’s words raise two key issues of interpretation. First, how is Fate played? Second, how those counterbalancing visions and reveries: vision indicates a spiritual quest, reverie an escape. Järvi’s Fate motif is of steely, determined brass but the killer punches are the tutti chords and yet what most lingers in my appreciation is the close of lamenting victims, the two clarinets and bassoons. I compare Dan Ettinger with the Stuttgarter Philharmoniker recorded in 2020 (Hanssler Classic CD HC20046) who plays Fate’s first showing bright and business-like, the tutti chords following it powerful, but not brutal. His introduction’s tailpiece of the clarinets and bassoons’ small community infliction and sorrow is poetic, but more like a portrait of sorrow than a lament. Järvi’s introduction, timing at 1:37, has more of the sostenuto about the Andante sostenuto marking than Ettinger’s, timing at 1:15, just enough to allow more of the atmosphere to be digested.

Järvi’s first main body theme is a dolorous lamentation: a state of depression writ large, occasional attempts to wrench out of it crushed. Järvi’s painstaking clarification of Tchaikovsky’s structure reveals the terrible, indomitable consistency of the oppression. Then the dolce grazioso transition theme by the clarinet and bassoon (4:54) briefly take this all away, via a tellingly handled ritardando into the second theme (5:34), in which Järvi quietly picks up the threads of reverie. Ettinger’s main body first theme is suddenly desolate and as the orchestration increases you feel the community more affected and the accents of stress, so by the first loud tutti all is embattled and thrillingly played. Another contrast well worked by Ettinger is the equally unexpected cool douche of the dolce grazioso theme.

The second theme acquires a countermelody in the cellos (5:58) marked cantabile and this is eloquently revealed by Järvi as if one received joyful theme germinates another and, in this, I think conveys more convincingly an optimistic, positive approach evolving. In a soft passage for violins there’s a repeated phrase (6:46 and 6:50, then again at 7:01 and 7:04) which Tchaikovsky describes as the beckoning by a luminous figure. Järvi plays this straight, as marked. Ettinger plays the repeat of the phrase both times softer, a charming effect but arguably overdoing things. Järvi’s accompanying timpani beats are clearer, as if a constant life pulse and the optimism, though stealthily progressed, becomes assured and you notice the horns now blast a majestic theme (8:09) leading into an emphatic tutti dance (8:25) which can only be put down by the return of the Fate motif (9:13).

Now the development (9:32) progresses a quieter version of the recent rhythmic build-up and, despite the combative return of the main body first theme (10:09) provides opposition to it. Now, listen out for the turning point and Järvi manages it with great clarity: the first violins’ short, rhythmic phrase ends with a sforzando on D flat (10:50, 10:52) but the third time this is tweaked to E flat (10:55) and not a sforzando but a creamy mf apex, a gleam of radiance that all can be resolved. The result is one of those quintessential Tchaikovsky passages of strings in rising sequences of pure ardour and when, inevitably, the Fate motif intervenes again, it no longer frightens and the battle rages between the two forces. At the climax the first theme now stakes its right to individuality and freedom (from 11:14). So, this is a multi-faceted theme: what started as a statement of depression has become one of defiance.

The first theme recapitulation reaches its searing height of individual right to exist (12:36) in strings and woodwind as the brass powers into it, then cue calm and the second theme recap relaxation, manifest sloth from Järvi’s players, particularly in the superbly smoochy horn solo (13:17) against flutes, clarinet and bassoon and then the sweetly singing oboe. Ettinger’s players sound too alert and therefore comparatively formal here. The returning Fate motif, albeit harrowing, is followed immediately by the cantabile beneficence of the flutes and clarinets’ theme (16:37), despite the strings’ edgy activity below. I like the balance Järvi gets between the two. Ettinger finds smoother, more Brahmsian warmth in the flutes and clarinets’ theme, but at a cost of, for me, over subduing the strings’ activity. The latter at first commands the stretto coda (17:10), but this also contains the final affirmation of the first theme in descant tremolando strings (18:00), very taut from Järvi, though Ettinger succeeds in being a touch more sizzling. Nevertheless, Järvi displays all the movement’s key elements well and shows that some of its most significant and memorable passages, notably the transitional dolce grazioso clarinet and bassoon and the majestic theme near the close of the exposition, aren’t important structural ones.

The slow movement Tchaikovsky explains as “the melancholy feeling that comes over you towards evening when you are sitting at home alone” and remember “happy moments” and “moments of dejection” and, by Tchaikovsky’s own definition, nostalgia: “It is both sad and sweet to lose oneself in the past.” What I find striking about this movement is its domesticity and inwardness, hence the marking Andantino in modo di canzone, a song rather than a dance. The main theme is in two parts: the first, which opens the movement, is a seamless folk-like oboe solo semplice ma grazioso. Järvi’s opening to this movement, with more shaping of the oboe solo than Ettinger’s, is more successful at getting across both the semplice and grazioso elements to more welcoming effect. Ettinger emphasises the semplice a little at the expense of the grazioso, so there’s a feel of wandering rather than shaping. The fundamental warmth of Järvi’s second part of the main theme is equally effective, the tenutos and sforzandos clear without being overdone and, in terms of dynamic pointing, less is more in terms of subtleties of emotive reaction. Järvi’s quiet opening of the central section soon gains sparks, melodic and counter melodic strands very accessible. I even like the unmarked, tasteful slight ritenuto (4:57) just before the ff presentation and grand entry of the brass and drums. In the return of the opening material, I find the first violins’ main theme a degree more winsome than Ettinger’s as is the woodwind demisemiquaver backing to very refined effect, though arguably insufficiently natural for the folksong flavour. Yet, while Järvi’s later instrumental solo reflections are exquisitely played, they don’t have Ettinger’s sense of affectionate farewell.

The third movement, a Scherzo with strings’ pizzicato ostinato, is an unashamedly display piece, “capricious arabesques, fleeting images” that come after alcohol, yet also, according to Tchaikovsky’s programme, ‘some muzhiks”, that’s Russian peasants, “on a spree, and a street song… in the distance a military procession”; but the images are disconnected, “strange, wild, incoherent”. How far should a performance convey this? I find Järvi uncharacteristically a shade disappointing in this movement. His strings’ pizzicato opening is more present and prosaic than Ettinger’s very sleek, gentle swells and ebbs. Järvi is clearer, more disciplined but less fun because the general ambience is heavier, more muscular in the Scherzo. With more refined dynamic contrasts, Ettinger conjures the sound of minuscule particles fluttering in the breeze. He brings a fantasy lightness and, when very soft, you wonder if you’re imagining it. From Järvi, the high A on the oboe (tr. 3, 1:37) isn’t like an alarm call as it is with Ettinger, the first sound of a wind instrument as it opens the Trio. Järvi’s more markedly meno mosso dancers than Ettinger’s seem like peasants on their best behaviour. Their ff presentation of the theme isn’t, however, a touch slower as Ettinger’s is.

The flute seems to be the chief dancer, but is then partnered by the piccolo. After strings alone and woodwind alone, we get brass plus drum (2:18), quite soft but moving forward firmly, so this must be Tchaikovsky’s distant military procession. Over this the clarinet adds the opening Trio theme and again the piccolo isn’t to be outdone. Tchaikovsky then gently eases all the impressions into a recap of the strings’ pizzicato. In the coda (4:34) the opening phrase of the melody is interchanged by woodwind and strings and then the woodwind lead the strings in the return of the Trio melody. The military procession feigns to reappear but is quickly immersed in pp strings’ dreams. All this is deliciously conveyed by Ettinger.

The finale is a more buoyant display piece, which Tchaikovsky terms “popular holiday merriment” to show you how to relieve your depression by surrendering yourself to joyous feelings. The Fate motif returns but can be offset by taking happiness from the joys of others. The finale’s first theme is the liveliest in this symphony, its running semiquavers like a firework cascading. Järvi succeeds in making it both brightly fizzing and highly disciplined. The second theme (tr. 8, 0:15) is like a Russian folk tune of valour and endurance, from Järvi ringing out in the woodwind but with appreciably nifty strings’ semiquavers ever surrounding it. The third theme (0:58) is like a more fulfilled extension of the first, a summation of festivity. Järvi has it hearty but also with a sureness of fulfilment, the product of admirable precision and clarity. The second theme then reappears with a continuing openness of tone on oboes and bassoons that now gives it a more reflective quality. It then gathers more woodwind and a wealth of strings’ tracery below but what Järvi makes haunting and sinister is the added weight (2:03) of the low B flat, like a tolling bell, from bass trombone and tuba, an octave lower than the cellos. When the trombones and tuba take up the theme, the strings’ tracery is wild indeed yet, while all are at ff, the theme remains dominant and it’s this theme Tchaikovsky chooses to develop (2:30) in what seems quite an independent affirmation of individual identity, in this spirit recalling the climax of the first movement, but here markedly more abandoned. This begins with the charm of soft flutes, oboes and clarinet to which Järvi brings an attractive simplicity, without milking the charm, though some might feel the result a touch too cool for this calm before the brief but hair-raising storm of the development proper (2:44). The recap of the first theme is sprightly from Järvi and his third theme, now immediately in tow, has considerable zip. But it’s then the second theme that gets again a fuller airing, this time from Järvi with a more dramatic, harassed manner in the violins (4:07) which a flute’s ascents in semiquavers try to lighten. Järvi crafts the repeated passages more softly and, while this effect isn’t marked in the score, it poetically conveys the weariness of caring. Is this the essence of the theme heard in so many guises? No, because it gradually softens (from 4:38) into kindlier, cheerier major mode, Järvi securing an affectionate balance between the violins and cellos. But when the rhythm changes from quavers to semiquavers, a storm builds up. The trombones and tubas then enter with the second theme in quavers to ensure stability with the horns and trumpets echoing in canon. This climax of individual affirmation Järvi gives us with a sense of great resolution, which seemingly inevitably precipitates the return of the Fate motif (5:38), fff with the most brutally crunching two tutti chords of all to match, but then this is just ignored as the horns alone slowly fade the motif and instead of the introduction’s victims’ pathos from clarinets and bassoons, just one bassoon and strings have a formal, dignified, dying wave of farewell furthered by softening basses only. A long, very, arguably from Järvi too, soft transition in timpani, cellos, basses and then crescendo to his stress-free merriment of the coda. The first theme triumphs, the second gets due respect, there’s just a flavour of the third in variant around 8:06, but the main impression is of an ebullient helter-skelter ride of a close.

Ettinger’s finale is very good, but I feel Järvi’s is even better, with more sense of pace and exhilaration, surprisingly because timing at 9:06 he’s slightly slower than Ettinger’s 8:42. Järvi, however, scores more in terms of significant detail and nuance. He emphasises the second theme’s virtuosity and how more flourishing is the strings’ backcloth and you take in the whole span of the presentation, not just of this section but the entire movement. Järvi doesn’t slightly hold the tempo at the arrivals of the third theme and I prefer this approach. When we get to the more reflective second theme presentation, I’m keenly aware of more surrounding detail, for instance the soft strings’ three crotchets’ repeated punctuation like troops marching. Järvi’s lower brass entries are more menacing, the passage for soft flutes, oboes and clarinet less charming than Ettinger’s yet a touching contrast of sudden domesticity. Järvi’s development progresses with irrepressible momentum and his return of the second theme is now more thoughtful and mournful, albeit less rich and romantic than Ettinger’s. I like Järvi’s playing of a repeated phrase second time around as an echo (4:34 after 4:30), though not marked. But then, why not do it first time around? (4:18 after 4:14). He’s engaged in a lot of micro- management here, with the beginning of the second sequence softer then louder again before softening at the repeat; but it’s effective. Ettinger, who was doing softer repeats for the beckoning figure’ in the first movement, follows the score here. Järvi’s approach seems to make more inevitable the return of the Fate motif, sternly delivered, but the horns ending with it alone effect a noble retreat and the change of the ending from the first movement seems as if the motif has now turned to pitying rather than, in the first movement, the victims. The result is something less bland than with Ettinger. In Järvi’s coda making merry is unconstrained in virtuoso presentation of breathtaking virtuosity delighting in surmounting the challenge.

Michael Greenhalgh

Previous review: David McDade

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