Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Tchaikovsky Cycle Vol 3 |
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Fedoseyev's Live Tchaikovsky 'Polish' Symphony No. 3
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 10/20/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Vladimir Fedoseyev was the conductor of the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra for thirty years or more and if any group knew what he wanted it was they. This DVD is of a live recording of a 1991 concert of that orchestra in the Alte Oper of Frankfurt, part of a series of video recordings of all the Tchaikovsky symphonies plus a number of his other works. This one also contains excerpts from 'Swan Lake' and the seldom-heard Concert Fantasia for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 56, featuring the pianist Mikhail Pletnev.
The Third Symphony is called the 'Polish' for no other reason than it's final movement is marked 'tempo di polacca'; otherwise there is absolutely nothing Polish about it, unlike the 'Little Russian' (Ukrainian) symphony which teems with Ukraine folk music. It is unusual in that with the exception of the minor key introduction it is generally in a major key, the only one of Tchaikovsky's symphonies with that distinction. Also, it is in five movements, unlike any of the others. It is also distinguished by being the least-played of Tchaikovksy's symphony cycle, although I'm not at all clear why that would be the case. I've heard the lilting third movement played by itself, a somewhat unusual occurrence in the concert world, but this is understandable as it sounds for all the world like an excerpt from one of Tchaikovsky's ballets. Indeed, much of the symphony sounds balletic. Fedoseyev and his orchestra play this work with élan and grace, qualities it requires. But the sound is a bit below what we'd expect from a modern DVD, surely because it was originally recorded on VHS or PAL tape. The same is true of its visual qualities -- not bad, but not as good as what we've become used to since the introduction digital video.
The DVD is filled out with eight sections from 'Swan Lake' as well as the Concert Fantasia. The ballet excerpts are nicely played, but one would probably prefer in a visual medium like the DVD to see the actual ballet performed. The Concert Fantasia is not a great piece, recycled as it is from materials Tchaikovsky had written for other purposes. It is in two movements. The first, 'Quasi Rondo', has an improvisatory feel although it is in reasonably strict sonata form and abounds in contrapuntal workings. Frankly it has always sounded a bit like a student work to me, although I gather it was written when Tchaikovsky was in his forties. Perhaps it sounds this way because Tchaikovsky was never completely comfortable with classical forms. The second movement, 'Contrasts', was originally to have been included in his Third Orchestral Suite, but was dropped and then reworked as a piano-and-orchestra work. It gets its name from the contrast between two very different moods, a musing, even introspective, andante cantabile and a bustling molto vivace. For me it doesn't hold together very well, although the materials themselves are generally attractive. It is given a creditable performance by Pletnev and the orchestra. Pletnev has never been one of my favorite pianists, although I admire his qualities as a conductor in which capacity we more and more see/hear him these days. The above-mentioned observations about audio and video also obtain for the 'Swan Lake' and 'Concert Fantasia' portions of the concert.
Bottom line: Although I mildly enjoyed the concert the first time through, I felt no urge to go back and watch it again. This is in contrast to how I felt about the other DVD that I've seen in this series, the one with the Fourth Symphony.