Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 6 in B minor, Op 74 (Pathétique)

Reviewed on Mon 05 Feb, 2018

As for Currentzis’s conducting, it’s interesting if unconvincing; tempos are divergent, in the first movement especially, and climaxes overblown, dominated by crude brass.

Opening with an electronic click, and the suspicion we are missing a smidgen of the double-bass start, Teodor Currentzis is contrived in his approach, especially with dynamic contrasts, something to distinguish his version from the countless others of the Pathétique. But how much is genuine and how much re-mixed in post-production? There seems something ‘fake’ going on; and the recording is poor anyway, edgy, over-ambient and unnaturally coloured, and for all the string-players listed (16.14.12.14.9) these sections can sound thin, but it varies. As for Currentzis’s conducting, it’s interesting if unconvincing; tempos are divergent, in the first movement especially, and climaxes overblown, dominated by crude brass. The second movement fares better, but the third is glib, and no revelations are imparted, save that Currentzis likes sensationalism and, as recorded, the Berlin Funkhaus has an untamed harsh acoustic at fortissimo, although the slow finale has a certain gravitas. Brilliant playing though.
–Colin Anderson