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CD Review

Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky

  • Symphony #5
  • Capriccio italien
Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Jaap van Zweden
DSOLive DSOLive002
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I intentionally chose to review DSOLive003 for Classical Net first. That wonderful alum contained the 4th symphony and Orchestral Suite #4 of Tchaikovsky. On the other hand, this album contains a very traditional coupling, with Szell's legendary Sony recording coming to mind. After the greatness of the 4th, would these Dallas forces deliver another great reading? The answer is an emphatic yes. With a Tchaikovsky 6th also in the works for this team, I can only say that I believe Zweden's Dallas tenure will easily establish him as one of the great Tchaikovsky conductors working in America today.

Everything Zweden and his orchestra do sounds utterly natural. This work can be a challenge, and even a dud in less capable hands. Zweden certainly must have played a lot of Tchaikovsky in Amsterdam, doubtless under some great names. As with his 4th, Zweden's experience as a former concertmaster gives him a keen understanding of the composer's sound world. And to his credit, he has created his interpretation within the framework which his players provide. In this sense, he owes some thanks to Andrew Litton and Mata before him, who built an ensemble that's just about perfect for this music.

And so it is; this is one of the most flowing, exciting, and coherent performances of the work that I have ever heard. Certainly nothing has come close on disc, at least from American soil, and DSO Live should pat themselves on the back. Starting with an urgently driven opening movement and rushing headlong into a tremendously exciting finale, the whole disc is a winner. All the qualities that made the other releases on this label are here as well; if Zweden could get me excited about Beethoven's 5th, Tchaikovsky's should not have been a hurdle. But since realistically the Tchaikovsky is much harder to play well, these outstanding performances in the series thus far have been nothing short of a thrill to hear. The coupled tone poem is an ages-old favorite that can also be stale if done wrong. So when I say that this is one of the better ones out there, I mean it. If you think you're tired of Tchaikovsky, give DSO Live a try. They've made a believer of me, for sure.

Copyright © 2013, Brian Wigman