Competition in this music is unbelievably fierce; it was in 2007 when this disc came out, and seven years have not lessened that factor at all. But the Cincinnati Telarc releases were nearly all a model of excellence and Paavo Järvi always had great things to say (and thankfully still does). All of this is a long way of saying that this is a serious contender for a reference edition of these works in modern sound.
The disc gets off to a roaring start with a superbly rendered version of Romeo and Juilet. This can be a tough work to manage, and Paavo Järvi makes sure everything goes smoothly. Climaxes are thrilling and all the stops are pulled out. That famous Telarc sound makes everything heart-pounding and in your face, and that's all to the good. The glorious love theme shows the Cincinnati strings in radiant form, but really, all systems are go, and the tension never sags. It feels less disjointed than most readings, too, and listeners will undoubtedly have their own favorite moments. This is a keeper, any way you look at it.
The 6th Symphony is also pretty terrific. Like the tone poem that precedes it, there is a naturalness and cogency both in conception and execution that turns out to work extremely well. The first movement is urgent and supremely well played by the Cincinnati band. The brass are stunning, but again, everyone contributes so positively that it defies criticism, The inner movements are both swift but wonderfully articulated; the second movement waltz is just that, and the third movement march thrills with a crisp and clean outlook. Lastly, the finale is beyond lovely in terms of phrasing and intonation, but benefits enormously from Paavo Järvi's attention to detail. At just over 11 minutes, it flows like oil on water, and everything just feels right. Stunning sound captures the whole disc in a warm, full acoustic. This may not displace "classic" versions, but Tchaikovsky fans will find a whole lot to like here.
Copyright © 2013, Brian Wigman