ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 5


PETER TCHAIKOVSKY - Symphony No. 5 - Francesca da Rimini - Mariss Jansons (Conductor) - Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra - Hybrid SACD - 4035719001051 - Released: November 2010 - BR Klassik 900105

Mariss Jansons demonstrated his mastery of the Tchaikovsky symphonies more than two decades ago in an award-winning complete cycle with the Oslo Philharmonic for Chandos (now in a bargain-priced 6-disc box CHAN 10392(6)). These live concert recordings from October 2009 and July 2010 provide proof that Jansons' mastery is undiminished and even enhanced. Compared to the classical refinement of Mikhail Pletnev (Russian National Orchestra/DG) and the pyrotechnics of Valery Gergiev (VPO/Philips), Jansons takes a straightforward approach to the symphony's score. His tempos are well chosen and the dynamics unexaggerated. The supremely gifted response of the Bavarian RSO and state-of-the-art recording locks this release in as a benchmark performance on disc for the Fifth. And the same could be said for Jansons' account of Francesca da Rimini. Tchaikovsky's Symphonic fantasy after Dante is delivered with daemonic intensity. The lyrical passages of the love theme are merely the lull before a shattering conclusion.

All things considered, this is a very satisfying CD and a major advance in the Jansons series of recordings for BR Klassik.

Stephen Habington - January 2011