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I have long thought the Romantic works often need to be performed with some classical discipline and attention to structure. The drama and passion (though that assertion has philosophical difficulties) are built in to the music.
I like this recording quite a lot, but I should tell you that the Penguin Guide, 2003/4, did not. They admit that "the orchestra plays very well indeed and is meticulously rehearsed," and I entirely agree. But, they thought the performance of the symphony is "passionless and entirely without flair." They have nothing much good to say about the Romeo and Juliet, either. Humph! I say. How could that be? For me, we have tight, disciplined performances which bring out the color, the drama, and the passion in the scores.
The Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, third and last version, 1880, is dramatic and varied. I don't find much benefit in trying to figure out a detailed program is worked out into the music. We know the story has a foreboding atmosphere, that the Montagues and Capulets are feuding, the Romeo and Juliet love each other despite the wishes of their families, and that they die tragically. What more could be asked of this performance, I don't know. It's dynamic, dramatic, tight, full of color and contrast, and very well recorded to boot. If it were a live performance, the audience would have risen in a standing ovation.
The programme Tchaikovsky laid out for the 4th Symphony in the first two movements, lays out depression and melancholy, broken by a few sweet dreams and memories. The third movement is cheerier but the feelings evoked are not coherent. Finally, in the fourth movement, he seeks a way out, suggesting if one cannot find happiness in oneself, maybe one can find it in other people. Perhaps life is good after all. Now, I must say that is a philosophy with which I profoundly disagree. I think that if one cannot find joy in oneself, one can never get it from other people save on a very temporary basis. I don't have much use for positive thinking, as some people have a chemical imbalance which cannot be thought away. Personally, I think the 4th movement shows he did have an internalized resource of joy to fight melancholy. But music is music, after all, and one needn't think of any such programmes.
I must say that such a philosophy might lead to despair and suicide when it doesn't work. However, I think the tale about a supposed informal "court of honor" sentencing Tchaikovsky to suicide over his homosexuality, mentioned in the CD notes as one of the theories about his death, is not very credible. I never have from when I first read of this theory in the old High Fidelity magazine. Was this sort of court of honor a custom? And why should Tchaikovsky obey it?
In sum, I think the performances are terrific and the recording quality is quite stunning.
John J. Puccio
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When I reviewed it over a decade ago, my impression of Marin Alsop's interpretation of Tchaikovsky's ever-popular Fourth Symphony was not entirely favorable, at least, not at first. The opening movement seemed lax, if not entirely leaden. Transitions never seemed to have much continuity and nothing seemed to have much zip. Naxos's live, close-up, mid bass-heavy sound didn't help this impression, making everything appear that much more ponderous. However, by the time the two final movements rolled around, Ms. Alsop started to hit her stride, and the symphony reached its customary fiery levels of excitement.
I don't know. Maybe because Ms. Alsop begins more slowly than I expected, she intensifies the overall effect. Nevertheless, for comparison purposes, I put on several competing recordings, including Monteux and Boston Symphony (JVC), Szell and the LSO (Decca), Jansons and the Oslo Philharmonic (Chandos), Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra (Decca), Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic (DG), and Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra (Philips). I found all of these performances and their sound preferable in almost every respect to the Naxos disc. Not only were the performances crisper and more pointed, the sound appeared better focused as well. Add to that the fact that orchestras like the Concertgebouw and Berlin Philharmonic make the Colorado Symphony sound like a much-smaller ensemble--and I say this with no disrespect intended toward the Colorado Symphony, which plays quite well. Anyway, maybe you get the idea.
Be that as it may, I know what you're going to say: comparisons are unfair. People like Monteux, Szell, Karajan, and Haitink are the more-notable conductors in this work, and they have the advantage of some of the truly great orchestras of the world; and, after all, is it fair to compare the relatively inexpensive Naxos disc to these other big names?
Fair enough, and for a low-cost recording, the Naxos disc is fine. With its coupling of the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, it makes a decent bargain. Besides, I doubt that one can even find all of the comparison discs I've mentioned, the Haitink disc not even issued anymore. Still, when you consider the alternatives, I'm not sure Alsop is entirely in the running, price advantage or not.
I suppose it all comes down to why a person might be considering buying the Naxos disc in the first place. If it's as a primary and only purchase, I should think any of the aforementioned conductors would be better choices. If it's to supplement a Tchaikovsky fan's collection of Fourths, then Alsop's rendering makes a good, fairly inexpensive option.
John J. Puccio
1 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Cornelis De Rooij
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When I bought this album in June, 2011 at a local CD-store (the former Firma H.G. van Luijken Klassiek, Breestraat, Leiden) I was desperately in "love" with her: The Summer of '11 :-(. The prelude to this event dates from September 2003 when I was confronted with her for the first time. I saw and read her name (on the cover of the first Samuel Barber CD of her (Barber O.W. Vol. I/Naxos) at another local CD-store (the former 'Barning's Muziekhandel', Stationsweg, Leiden). Around that time I was buying classical music for the first time of my life. I was then rather "old" already: 45 years of age. I wondered myself if was the name of a male or a female conductor. The name fascinated me from the beginning. It was "love" at first sight, albeit not mutual as you all know - I was and I am still the great unknown in her life. A picture of her inside the booklet of her Naxos CD of Lenny Bernstein's Chichester Psalms-album did the rest. (Why did you expose yourself to an idiot like me?) The sympathy for that person slumbered all those years almost invisibly until the passion explodes inside my head at the beginning of June last year. I became crazy, say completely insane so it felt. I took extra anti-psychotics (I'm suffering from a bi-polar disorder.) to temper "Moved stormly, with the greatest ''Vehemenz.", just like the Second Movement of Mahler's Fifth Symphony, but then inside my head! ;-). The the only result was that I became sedated and that I felt myself physically sick. Why her? why me? Reason had left me completely. In that kind of atmosphere I bought the Tchaikovsky-album. The 'Vehemenz' diminished a greater deal, but the true and sincere longing blossoms, still ('Adagietto'). Nowadays my feelings are tempered, but my feelings towards that person are still very alive and present and increasing. That's why the sub-title of Tchaikovsky's Fourth, "Our Symphony", is very relevant for what I experienced that very moment when I heard the sounds of this CD for the first time. It was if there was a siren, my personal siren, talking to me. I'm not in the same position of mrs. Von Meck, because this was overwhelming my heart, although the quality of playing isn't so gripping at all. The performance lacks a bite like the Mravinsky on DG. does. Why the full marks? Because this is a sincere attempt to communicate with the 'other' world. This kind of music and this kind of Accomplished music making is very difficult, if not impossible, how reach out to eternal and cosmical loved-one. How to try to express your feelings of longing and despair in one single symphony. The perception of the listener is even essential of that of composer, orchestra or conductor. This CD echoes a struggle in several ways by several persons. Doubt, despair and passion in one upheaval of creativity. This is not Marin's finest music, but undoubtfully and more likely here most honest. This is music composed and performed by humans not by machines. A.I. is very remote from this album. This warm kind of music making. The Santa Fe Listener may think that I have a soft spot for this conductor. Not for here as a conductor, but only for her as a human being whose music making is exemplary for her intelligence. This CD is not showing too much of that. This a mediocre piece of art in the ears of many. But all the more human. Forget the sheer perfection of Mravinsky, and take a warm bath in sincere human feelings.
I'm aware that this a very subjective and personal review, like all the others I wrote for this site. They aren't ment for the millions. They are ment for just the one who find they aren't reviews at all. My personallity is the opposite of Peter Iljich, I think that he should not very dislike me when we should meet each other because I am, what is said by the late Henry van Praag (professor of psychology,R.U., Utrecht, Holland), a hyper-romantical personality. (And do I trying to romancing a stone? ;-))
And you dear reader, what do you think of this short referate on music and psychology?
Don't hesitate to buy this CD before this CD is out of stock. (gnarr, gnarr: i-Tunes) And do you wish more of Marin's humanity, buy and listen to here Brahms cycle. I disliked Brahms' symphonies, even under the baton of a Klemperer or a Swarowsky, even my compatriot Van Zweden couldn't convince me, but she is in Brahms a true revelation. Marin's Tchaikovsky's Fourth is evidently problematical (why?), but in Brahms the sun started to shine. May the sun shine forever. Amen.
Kindest Regards, Cor.
Edited (minor corrections/additions): December 29th, 2013. What will bring the year 2014 to us all? Nobody knows!
"Niets is zeker en zelfs dat niet." Your mind is the deepest abyss I can imagine, the darkest and most dangerous black hole of the them all. - my mind too? Be honest and sincere, and nothing besides that. Only a single gesture is enough to kill the illusion which I am living in now. Please kill it... I am dying for a simple, mind blowing experience which sets me back to my origen. Amen.
(Do I mean that? No, of course not. Only the future is decisive in what is wrong and what is good. Patience won't help us.)
I am not suffering, on the contrary, I am happy as I can be - no lying at all, honestly... :-) Bye!