Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 6 in B minor, Op 74 (Pathétique); Romeo and Juliet – Fantasy Overture, Op 32

Reviewed on Thu 17 Nov, 2016

The Allegro molto vivace third movement effortlessly builds to a superbly exciting culmination, while the towering finale is all the more moving for its unexaggerated flow and refusal to play to the gallery.

Dignified, compassionate and keenly proportioned readings of these two Tchaikovsky masterworks. Semyon Bychkov's way with the Pathétique Symphony may not rival the searing intensity stoked by some famous forebears – Fricsay and Mravinsky, both on DG, instantly spring to mind – but there's absolutely no want of edge-of-seat tension or giddy spectacle in the first movement's hair-raising development. Elsewhere, the Allegro molto vivace third movement effortlessly builds to a superbly exciting culmination, while the towering finale is all the more moving for its unexaggerated flow and refusal to play to the gallery. Moreover, the delectable poise and lustrous sheen displayed by the incomparable Czech Philharmonic Orchestra will surely give great pleasure on repeated hearings. Likewise, the present Romeo and Juliet brings another performance to savour in its enticing glow, bracing cut and thrust, and ample generosity of feeling – I was put in mind of Claudio Abbado's exceptionally eloquent Boston SO version for DG from the early 1970s (a great personal favourite). Decca's engineering is wonderfully ripe, wide-ranging and detailed to match. Make no mistake, future instalments in what is emblazoned on the front cover as “The Tchaikovsky Project” featuring these same artists are eagerly awaited.
–Andrew Achenbach