Tchaikovsky: Suite No. 3, Stravinsky: Divertimento - Jurowski
PentaTone Classics PTC 5186061
Classical - Orchestral
Tchaikovsky: Suite No. 3 in G Op. 55, Stravinsky: Divertimento from "Le Baiser de la fee"
Russian National Orchestra
Vladimir Jurowski (conductor)
Review by Graham Williams - January 3, 2006
It is a real coup for PentaTone to have added Vladimir Jurowski to their growing roster of first-rate artists. At 33, he is already a truly charismatic conductor as these superb performances testify.
For some unaccountable reason, none of the four Tchaikovsky Suites is a staple of the concert repertoire today. This is a pity, as they are mature works written in between the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies and all four contain music of the highest quality, full of melodic invention, brilliant orchestration and variety of mood.
The Third Suite written in 1884 and recorded here, is, predictably, often coupled with one of the other three, but instead PentaTone have decided to add the Divertimento from Stravinsky’s ballet Le Baiser de la Fee. This is an imaginative choice as Stravinsky used lesser known Tchaikovsky piano music and songs on which to base the music for his ballet.
The Suite opens with an Elégie, ravishingly played by the Russian National Orchestra with subtle changes of pace and dynamics all captured to perfection within the clean and spacious recorded sound. Within a few minutes of listening, the position of each section of the orchestra can be clearly identified, violins split left and right, horns back left etc.
The restless yearning quality of the Valse mélancolique that follows is perfectly captured by Jurowski, who avoids any heaviness with his judicious choice of tempo.
The Scherzo (Presto) is brilliantly played with terrific exchanges between the woodwind and strings. My only minor grumble is that the percussion in the march like trio section sounds too reticent and hardly registers.
The Finale, a theme and twelve variations lasting about twenty minutes, is a tour de force. The variations are well contrasted and each is a gem in its own right, giving every section of the orchestra the opportunity to shine. I must mention the lovely cor anglais playing in Variation 8 and the Concert master Sergey Galaktionov’s violin solo in Variation 10. The culmination of the work is a brilliant Polacca that could have easily come from one of Tchaikovsky’s three great ballets.
The twenty-four minute concert suite Stravinsky extracted from his ballet is also a delight; the basic Tchaikovsky material transformed by Stravinsky’s genius. Once again the clarity of the recording allows one to appreciate Stravinsky’s pungent orchestration and witty transformation of his source material.
Although some may hanker after the complete score, particularly when it is as well performed as here, the Divertimento does contain the most memorable music from the ballet.
The whole of this SACD is recorded with a clarity and richness that is outstanding, even by PentaTone’s high standards, and, as usual with this label, the rear surround channels never draw attention to themselves, but provide an extra sense of realism by subtly capturing the acoustic signature of the recording venue.
This is a disc not to be missed.
Copyright © 2006 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net