Tchaikovsky: Symphonies – No 4 in F minor, Op 36; No 5 in E minor, Op 64; No 6 in B minor, Op 74 (Pathétique)

Reviewed on Fri 16 Jun, 2017

If there is no false sentiment, or wallowing transitions, there is also a feeling that the music is harried and denied its full emotional expanse.

Christian Lindberg says he adheres to Tchaikovsky’s metronome markings. This allows the Fourth and Pathétique symphonies fitting together on the first disc. If there is no false sentiment, or wallowing transitions, there is also a feeling that the music is harried and denied its full emotional expanse, often exciting though. The Arctic Philharmonic gives its all, although the recording is rather diffuse for opuses 36 and 74. If you like (or want to hear) this music toughened and direct, Lindberg argues that he offers the composer’s point-of-score intentions (so do others, such as Michael Gielen in No 6) – although the final results may be thought two-dimensional. The better-recorded Fifth (edgy brass untamed), using a different Norwegian venue, is also the most convincing reading (apt word), with the first-movement Allegro con anima quite jaunty and integrated, if needing more leeway at times. No first choices here, but – not a euphemism – all interesting.
–Colin Anderson