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CD Review

Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky

  • Symphony #4 in F minor, Op. 36
  • Symphonic Fantasy Francesca da Rimini in E minor, Op. 32
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/José Serebrier
BIS CD-1273 70m DDD
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It is incidental to note that there have not been any recent recordings of Tchaikovsky symphony cycles in recent months so BIS have taken a bold step in issuing what appears to be a complete traversal of these oft recorded works under Jose' Serebrier. However, this lovingly recorded issue could well be a major symphonic cycle as first impressions are truly outstanding. The Fourth Symphony is one of Tchaikovsky's better works and here it receives a white-hot interpretation. The Bamberg Symphony is an alert and responsive band of players who are completely attuned to their conductor's idiom.

The expansive First Movement is held together with an iron grip yet the tension is not allowed to fade and here, I would compare Serebrier with the magnificent Sanderling (coupled with Mravinsky in the 5th and 6th on a DG Originals double) who is the other outstanding advocate of this work. The Andantino is lovingly played with the BIS engineering particularly kind to the Bamberg strings. The hilarious Scherzo and titanic Finale are also well played with a huge amount of power and wit carefully harnessed to provide the right effect.

The accompanying 'Francesca da Rimini' is also superb and here I would place Serebrier on top of a pedestal of great interpretations of this piece alongside Järvi, Britten and the irrepressible Markevitch on BBC Legends. As I have already said, this is an indispensable issue for any Tchaikovsky enthusiast and I will follow the cycle with enthusiasm.

Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech