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Reviews: Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 etc. - Neeme Järvi

Reviews: 5

Review by mwagner1962 April 5, 2005 (7 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I bought this SACD as a first trial effort to see how I liked the SACD offerings from BIS. I have always been a fan of Neeme Jarvi (his redbook efforts) so I was not as much worried about his interpretation as I was worried about the sound quality of BIS SACDs.

Needless to say, I am extremely happy with this recording. I do not have a plethora of the Tchakovsky 5th Symphony on CD or SACD. I have an old redbook recording with Solti and Chicago which I have always liked, and this recording shares the same energy, passion, and excitement that the CSO recording has.

Brass playing is excellent as are the efforts of the winds and strings. Maestro Jarvi keeps the pace moving nicely, and gets plenty of excitement.

I like this recording enough to buy Jarvi's BIS recordings of the Tchaikovsy Sym. No.'s 1 and No. 6, and I hope that BIS will eventually record the three remaining symphonies!!!

Highly recommended!!!!

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Review by thepilot April 11, 2005 (7 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is so good I had to go back to my old Mravinsky DG CD's to be absolutely certain that I'm not fooling myself. And I wasn't. The recording is up to the usual BIS standards and much better, clearer and more full bodied than for the 6th symphony in the same series. The orchestra play like angels and this is truly a magnificent Tchaikovsky sound, very Russian and velvety, but with all the sonic and harmonic transparency that the score asks for. And the performance is devine, Jarvi is concerning this symphony in Mravinksy's league, clearly outshining Gergiev's already legendary recording. Highly recommended.

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Review by akiralx April 20, 2005 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
This is an SACD which I actually prefer in stereo rather than multi-channel, to be honest - I'll explain why later.

The performance of the symphony is pretty good, generally imaginative and exciting with some lovely moments of repose in the Andante.

The first movement develops naturally but is a bit prosaic, with the upper strings perhaps lacking a little power, without the support of the cellos and basses they get later in the work. Some of the brass interjection seem a little weak. The performance gets better and better as it goes on though - the slow movement and remainder of the work are excellent.

Generally Jarvi keeps the work moving, particularly in the Waltz, which I like - and he also generates enough excitement in the Finale, so I have few quibbles with the interpretation. It just never quite takes off as a great performance can.

Instrumental lines in the wind (especially) and brass are often brought out nicely, and the string tone is fairly sumptuous, although with a pleasing timbre with tangible depth rather than a lush homogenised blanket. Others have reported that other SACDs in this Tchaikovsky series have a leaner string sound than here, but I can't comment as this is the only one in the cycle I have heard. I found the clarity of the strings pretty impressive here.

Sonically, I was a tad disappointed with this, maybe because I was expecting to be amazed: the other orchestral BIS SACD I have (Vanska's Beethoven 4 and 5) sounds much better in multi-channel, which I assume is entirely a result of the recording venue. The soundstage here is wide but there is too much rear channel 'action' (although this seems only intermittent, improving in the Finale), and the sound often seems synthetic with moments of harshness.

In stereo this sounds very fine - the soundstage is narrower but the whole aural image is more natural with just as much clarity and depth as the 5.1 layer. I can only give the 5.1 layer 3.5 stars but the stereo warrants 4.

Performance-wise I prefer this to the only other digital Fifth I have, namely Pletnev on DG who is rather cool. I also enjoyed Haitink's Fifth from his underrated cycle - but for this work one recording stands alone for me: Szell's 1959 Cleveland recording, last sighted on a cheap Sony 'twofer' about five years ago (I have an earlier CD issue with rather more presence but some audible tape rumble/hiss). His recording has so much excitement, beauty and atmosphere, it never fails to thrill me whenever I hear it.

An SACD release perhaps, Sony?

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Review by Windsurfer January 17, 2007 (8 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
These are extraordinary performances, luckily caught in extremely fine multi-channel sound. To realize this quality took me more than one audition for at first I did not play the thing LOUD enough! I love it when the sound pressure levels in my listening room seem to approach those of my favorite concert hall and there is absolutely no break-up or harsh quality coming from the strings or anywhere else that could be attributed to the recording equipment. I do find the Gothenburg trumpets a little curious with a lot of upper partials evident to create a "metalic" quality, but the strings are simply marvelous. I revelled in the unusual timbres of the lower woodwinds and the slam of the truly impressive bass drum. I found the levels of the rear channels to be well judged calling no attention to themselves while giving a truly huge soundstage and a sense of air enveloping my listening room, allowing me to imagine with my eyes closed that I was really there on location while the recording was being made. (Here friend Bissie probably laughs knowing as he does and I do not, how many takes this product required)

As to the music, the performances, from begining to end, I truly cannot imagine it being equaled let alone bettered! The Symphony, the Voyevoda (which I never heard before) and the Cappriccio Italien all contain felicities of phrasing and an innate feeling for this music, a sense of committment I found really eye opening after reading all the negative stuff written about Jarvi - here he has really outdone himself. This is really superb!

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Review by gonzostick November 20, 2009 (3 of 13 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Terrible disc... Bass shy... The hall is resonant, but the bass frequencies are not on the recording. Furthermore the performance is terrible and completely prosaic, and pedestrian. The orchestra has ensemble problems, including a wind section that does some seriously sloppy playing. Also, the rhythmic tension between orchestra sections is allowed to drop very annoyingly.

Furthermore, Jarvi has NOTHING to say about this music. The notes are there, but the phrases and sequences do not add up to anything. THAT is the point in conducting Tchaikovsky with its endless repetitions. It is unfortunate that SONY so abandoned this format when they could have released Ormandy with Philadelphia in symphonies 4, 5, and 6. Those are excellent and the WHOLE orchestra plays together, plus, the string section is not as scrawny as the one on this recording.

Yes, the Mravinsky Leningrad set of 4-5-6 on RBCD is excellent, but one has to contend with a Russian trumpet section that has all the subtlety of Sir Laurence Olivier's dental drill bit in MARATHON MAN. They are loud and tasteless, overblowing like concrete jack hammers...

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