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Tchaikovsky: Complete Symphonies - Riccardo Muti (Boxset) (2005)

Tchaikovsky: Complete Symphonies - Riccardo Muti (Boxset) (2005)

Tchaikovsky: Complete Symphonies - Riccardo Muti (Boxset) (2005)
EAC rip | Flac(tracks) - Cue - Log | Full scans + Covers + Booklet | 7 CDs | 1.68 GB
Genre: Classical | Label: Brilliant Classics | RAR 5% Rec. | Fileserve

Muti's Philharmonia Tchaikovsky cycle on balance remains the best available, probably the best thus far recorded. It has everything: passion, intensity, razor-sharp discipline, and excitement aplenty. Some performances, notably of Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3, surely have never been bettered, and there are no weaknesses at all. The performances of the last three symphonies, No. 4 especially, all rank among the finest, and Manfred is pretty spectacular too--the best interpretation yet issued of a work singularly ill-served on disc. In short, if you don't already own these performances then you simply have to get this set, particularly if you don't want to bother with multiple versions of multiple works. As far as complete symphony cycles go, it's all you'll ever need.

The fillers, featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra, are just as fine, though I'm glad that Brilliant Classics has kept the Philharmonia Romeo and Juliet, which is just a bit more incisive than the later Philadelphia remake. It's also a classic performance. There's also strong competition in the complete-cycle department from Markevitch on Philips, though Muti's interpretations have still more power and tension and were far more spectacularly recorded for their day. Indeed, they still sound fabulous. We hear a lot about "vintage EMI sound" from the '70s, and many releases don't deserve the accolade, but these certainly do.

Review: Riccardo Muti recorded the Tchaikovsky Symphonies in this box with the PHILHARMONIA ORCHESTRA in the mid to late 1970s, and they are well recorded, with excellent sound and fiery playing, which make this a good bargain. Collectors should be aware: Symphonies 4, 5 and 6 were later recorded with the PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA in the 1980s: these are NOT the same recordings - these are Muti's earlier Philharmonia ones. The Philadelphia items here are the 1812 Overture, Swan Lake Suite, Francesca da Rimini, and Romeo and Juliet.

This is a good overall survey, and a bargain to boot, but collectors should be aware there is heavy competition. To collect discs one at a time would be more costly, so the choice remains one of individual taste. Tchaikovsky's 1st Symphony, "Winter dreams" is very well played under Muti's leadership, and perhaps a little driven. Brilliant's sound is much better than the 1st EMI CD issue of this recording.
Symphony 2, "Little Russian" is also well played and recorded, and the Allegros are really FAST. Symphony 3, "Polish" benefits from blistering fast tempos in the Allegro section of I, and V (Tempo di Polacca) is nearly reckless, but with a thrilling coda. Symphonies 4, 5, and 6 are very good, but there are better recordings elsewhere, including Muti's own Philadelphia recording of 5.

Other options? For Symphony 1: Michael Tilson-Thomas/Boston Symphony (DG Originals), Adrian Leaper/Polish National Orchestra (Naxos), Andrew Litton/Bournemouth Orchestra (Virgin); for Symphony 2: Igor Markevitch/London Symphony (Philips Duo);
Symphony 3: Antoni Wit/Polish Natl. Orch. (Naxos), Eugene Ormandy/Philadelphia Orchestra (BMG Japan, if you want to import it); Symphony 4: Ormandy/Philadelphia (Sony); Bernstein/New York Philharmonic (Sony - the 1975 recording, NOT the earlier 1960 one); and Thomas Beecham/Royal Philharmonic (in his GREAT CONDUCTORS OF THE 20th Century 2 CD collection, on EMI); for Symphony 5: Ormandy/Philadelphia (Sony); Seiji Ozawa/Berlin Philharmonic (DG); and for Symphony 6: Ormandy/Philadelphia (Sony), Pierre Monteux/Boston (RCA), or Wit/Polish National (Naxos).

Avoid Karajan's DG recordings: especially of Symphony 3 - he did strange things with the tempos in III and V, which really distract from the music.

For one stop shopping, Muti is very good indeed, but fussier collectors may want to consider a variety of recordings one at a time.


1. Symphony no 1 in G minor, Op. 13 "Winter daydreams"
Orchestra/Ensemble: New Philharmonia Orchestra
Written: 1866/1874; Russia
Recorded 11/12 February 1975, Kingsway Hall, London.

2. 1812 Overture, Op. 49
Orchestra/Ensemble: Philadelphia Orchestra
Written: 1880; Russia
Recorded February 1981, Old Metropolitan Opera House, Philadelphia.

3. Symphony no 2 in C minor, Op. 17 "Little Russian"
Orchestra/Ensemble: Philharmonia Orchestra
Written: Russia
Recorded 27/28, March, 1978, Abbey Road Studios London

4. Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48
Orchestra/Ensemble: Philadelphia Orchestra
Written: 1880; Russia
Recorded 9 February 1981, Old Metropolitan Opera House Philadelphia

5. Symphony no 3 in D major, Op. 29 "Polish"
Orchestra/Ensemble: Philharmonia Orchestra
Written: 1875; Russia
Recorded 24/25 June & 20 July 1977 Abbey Road Studios London

6. Swan Lake Ballet Suite, Op. 20
Orchestra/Ensemble: Philadelphia Orchestra
Written: 1875-1876; Russia
Recorded 25/27 February 1984 Memorial Hall Philadelphia

7. Symphony no 4 in F minor, Op. 36
Orchestra/Ensemble: Philharmonia Orchestra
Written: 1877-1878; Russia
Recorded 18 & 21 January 1979, Abbey Road Studios London

8. Francesca Da Rimini, Fantasy after Dante Op. 32
Orchestra/Ensemble: Philadelphia Orchestra
Written: 1876; Russia
Recorded January 1991 Memorial Hall, Philadelphia

9. Symphony no 5 in E minor, Op. 64
Orchestra/Ensemble: Philharmonia Orchestra
Written: 1888; Russia
Recorded 1,2 July 1978 Kingsway Hall, London

10. Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Path?tique"
Orchestra/Ensemble: Philharmonia Orchestra
Written: 1893; Russia
Recorded 14/15, November, 1979, Abbey Road Studios London

11. Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
Period: Romantic
Written: 1869/1880; Russia
Recorded 27/28 March 1977 Abbey Road Studios London

12. Manfred Symphony in B minor, Op. 58
Orchestra/Ensemble: Philharmonia Orchestra
Written: 1885; Russia
Recorded 3/10 July 1981 Kingsway Hall, London

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