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  Channel Classics -
  CCS SA 21704
  Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 - Fischer
  Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F minor Op. 36, Romeo and Juliet Overture

Budapest Festival Orchestra
Ivan Fischer (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Site review by Polly Nomial October 4, 2005
Performance:   Sonics:    
The performances themselves are stupendous causing me to re-evaluate music that I'd grown (too?) close to in recent years. The symphony does have slight pauses rendered in the motto theme but nowhere near as great as some in the professional press had led me to believe; I quickly became accustomed to these and they do not disturb me in the slightest. The other details emerge organically from the score which is a great reflection on the simply wonderful playing and conducting on this disc. Pacing as a whole is not controversial.

In the first movement, there is an almost dual composition at work here - some episodes are wonderfully balletic whilst it quickly descends into the tortured soul mode. The woodwind are beautiful in the slow movement, with phrasing being handed over with care between players. In the pizzicato/"marching band" scherzo, the delightful interplay as the two groups join forces is very well captured with a wonderfully judged "retreat" at the end of the movement. The finale is played not quite at full tilt (I'm sure the BFO had at least a little in reserve) but in no way is the conducting hesitant & this approach serves to make the re-appearance of the motto theme all the more dramatic just before the (hollow?) coda blazes away.

The overture is very well played too and Fischer does not "milk" the great love theme (not that it's underplayed either) and brings the work to a very convincing close - not something that everyone manages. The dramatic passages are just that but the more reflective passages also have a remarkable sense of poise. In both works the BFO sounds very powerful but refined, not going for a Karajan-esque sumptuousness (wonderful though that is in small doses) but for a more "purer" tone.

The recording is very very good with the usual house sound with the exception of a slight (and I mean very very slight) "chirruping" effect on the stereo SACD layer; this is nothing to worry about unless you are going to play the disc at a volume which would damage your hearing anyway.

An earlier release of this SACD caused me to write:
"So why have I rated the stereo 5 stars and the MCH 0.5 stars? Well, as accepted by Channel Classics, there are serious editing errors on the MCH layer to the extent that around 2.5 minutes worth of surround information is not present (sadly both symphony and overture are affected). If that wasn't the case, the disc would be pure unalloyed joy as the recording (this major fault excepted) is simply as good as we've come to expect from Channel Classics."

I'm pleased to say that this defect has now been corrected. The difference between the two editions is that on the disc, the serial number printed around the central hole now carries the batch number D22 instead of the defective issue D21. Hope this is clear, if not, please e-mail me and I'll try to clear up any confusion.

Copyright © 2005 John Broggio and

Review by akiralx December 13, 2004 (19 of 20 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
First of all, after discussions here about misleading SACD multichannel packaging, well done to Channel Classics for clearly marking this as a 5.0 SACD on the cover. So a centre channel but no subwoofer in use.

Fair enough, and soundwise this is a truly remarkable multichannel SACD: at least as good as the recent (and excellent) Chailly Mahler 9 from Decca. The clarity and weight of the brass and warmth of the strings are wonderful, and the use of the rear channels is ideal: perfect ambient sound with no instruments looming weirdly out of the mix.

The presence of the pizzicato strings in the Scherzo is uncanny, while the lower brass have tremendous weight and power without ever overwhelming the winds or strings. As fine an SACD sound as I have heard, aided by wonderful orchestral playing. As one other site has said, if there is a company making better SACDs than Channel Classics, I have yet to hear them. This is perhaps finer than the wonderful Budapest/Fischer Dvorak SACD.

The performances are also excellent; I rather overdosed on Szell's famous LSO performance of the symphony a few years ago, and recently have only really listened to the First and Fifth for pleasure; but this reading is remarkably fresh as well as powerful. Fischer has inserted a couple of minuscule pauses into the opening fanfare rather than playing it as one phrase, but his interpretation is uncontroversial, just very idiomatic with an ideal combination of Tchaikovskian passion and exemplary instrumental execution from his superb orchestra.

The Romeo and Juliet concentrates more on drama and incisive attack rather than dwelling lovingly on the romantic aspects, so if you want to luxuriate then other readings may suit you more: I like Sinopoli's DG recording coupled with his fine Pathetique. Fischer certainly is urgent in this work: his performance comes in at under 19 minutes whereas most take over 21, and perhaps he could have relaxed a touch more for the love music, especially on its reappearance. But there are more than enough compensations: the high drama of the work is thrillingly handled and the closing pages are truly tragic with more than a hint of nobility.

Strongly recommended!

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Review by mwagner1962 February 15, 2005 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I bought this SACD today (my first ever Channel Classics SACD and certainly NOT my last) and was extremely impressed with the sound and the performance!!

However, there is something just a touch on the strange side with Maestro Fischer's interpretation....there are some unusual and unexpected pauses in the opening fanfare. These very brief breaks remind me of the uber funny "Viennese" hiccup done so often in the waltzes from the Strauss family.

Despite these strange breaks, I love the performance, the playing, and a special cheer for Maestro Fischer letting the brass setion play like a brass section....some very special kudos for the horn section and the string section for the pizzicato work in the 3rd mvt!!!

I now cannot wait to hear more future Channel Classics with Ivan Fischer (does anyone know why he left Phillips to record with Channel???) and I also look forward to hearing those recording he did for Phillips!!!

HIGHLY recommended!!!

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Works: 2  

Peter Tchaikovsky - Romeo and Juliet (fantasy overture), TH 42
Peter Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4 in F minor, TH 27 Op. 36