Review by Edvin February 18, 2006 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
The combination Italy and Tchaikovsky has always been a success. Remember Muti and his excellent cycle with the Philharmonia - the finale in the fifth is still unrivalled.
Those of you who already have Gatti´s 4&5 know that this is something special. However, in no 6, tempi are a bit more traditional.
After a sombre introduction the allegro is so full of expectations. There is much tension and eagerness, as well as delicate playing. Gatti has his eye on the developement of the whole and waits for the right moment to pull out the punches. It is a dramatic tour de force with tragedy written in bold letters. The brass section is on it´s toes and the horns response is every conductors dream.
The 5/4 waltz is slick, seductive and cat-like. It has all the warmth of a feline in front of an open fire, and elegance to match.
The march is quite fast and frenetic. The forward momentum is relentless and the playing is absolutely stunning. It is rather steady in tempo, none of Markevich´s changes, and it moves with the utmost power to a formidable close.
A slightly held back introduction to the finale gives way to an italienate song, semplice indeed. Gatti presents the finale in a witheld manner, no great gestures yet. But the way the movement developes is so impressive and Gatti is a master of suspension. The climax is overwhelming and the symphony is brought to a tremendous close. And the rest is silence.
Only it is not as the Serenade for strings follow suite. I think this should have been placed before the symphony. Or to be honest, I would rather have Hamlet or Francesca as a "fill up". That said, this is a glorious performance of the serenade. Not as romantic as, say, Barbirolli, but with a more modern attitude it is a triumph. The vibrato is a bit held back, more emphasis is put on the melodic lines, the counterpoint. It is a bit more chamber music-like. More intimate indeed. Actually, this is the best performance ever on record. It is so sensitive and full of magic that my heart melts.
The recorded sound is excellent with some air around the orchestra. No Chandos flight hangar, but still I would have welcome a slightly closer sound. Every detail is heard and the dynamic range is wide, I only miss an ounce of warmth.
I do hope that Gatti and Harmonia Mundi will continue this series with Manfred and the early symphonies as well. If they do they will have a classic set.
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