A superb value set featuring Rozhdestvensky conducting Symphonies Nos. 4–6, Simonov conducting Symphony No.2, and Fedoseyev conducting Nos.1 & 3. Gibson conducts the famous 1812 Overture, and Temirkanov delivers a passionate Romeo and Juliet.
Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies Nos. 1–6 and ‘Manfred’ Symphony (after Byron) encapsulate the composer’s struggle with his own creative genius. Both No.1 and No.2 were revised following their initial performances, due to the composer’s dissatisfaction with their original states. Despite this, the Symphony No.1 (‘Winter Daydreams’) is a delightful work, the most optimistic of the six, while the Symphony No.2 (‘Little Russian’) is unique for its nationalistic edge, although it relies upon Ukrainian folk tunes, not Russian.
The composer was, however, satisfied with the two symphonies that followed, although the Symphony No.3 ‘Polish’ remains the least well known of the cycle, displaying his indebtedness to Western European models, notably Schumann whose Symphony No.3 was also in five movements. Symphony No.4 is generally recognised as Tchaikovsky’s first symphonic masterpiece. Written during a time of great stress, its composition offered him an escape from his near breakdown, and he considered it one of his best creations.
Tchaikovsky was less pleased with the outcome of his 5th Symphony. He wrote ‘I have written myself out… no ideas, no inclination… That symphony is repellent… it will never please the public’. Despite this, it is the most performed of his symphonies and widely considered to be one of the greatest symphonies of all time. He commenced his Symphony No.6, which was to be his final composition, in 1893; it is a sombre work, of which he wrote ‘Without exaggeration, I have put my whole soul into this work’. Within 9 days he was dead – officially from cholera (an unlikely cause of death in the middle and upper classes), which caused rumour to spread that he had, in fact, taken his own life. The 6th subsequently gained the title ‘Pathétique’.
This comprehensive set contains performances by some of the great Tchaikovsky interpreters and, in addition to the symphonies, contains the overtures, Capriccio italien and the enduringly popular Marche slave.
- ‘A first-class new digital recording of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony conducted by Rozhdestvensky… It is a very striking performance, Russian in feeling yet westernized, never going over the top in its emotional fervour… it is a reading that grows on one and the LSO's playing is first rate’. Gramophone review of Symphony No.4, December 1987
- Extensive booklet notes covering each of the works included in the set.