Let's say your tastes usually run to the Austro-Germanic, but you already have all of Beethoven's and Brahms' symphonies, most of Bruckner's and Mahler's symphonies, and many of Mozart's and Haydn's symphonies, so now you're thinking about trying out Tchaikovsky's symphonies. The question is: how many should you get? Should you get just the famous last three symphonies? Should you get all six numbered symphonies? Should you get all six symphonies plus the Manfred Symphony. Or should you get all symphonies six plus Manfred plus the orchestral suites? The answer, of course, depends on how much of Tchaikovsky's richly melodic, fabulously colorful, and extravagantly emotional orchestral music you're up for.
This double album consists of Tchaikovsky performances that have been issued in several different forms. The Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 was recorded in 2012, when the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra, a joint project of the cities of Tromsø and Bodø, was still called the Nordic Philharmonic; from a marketing point of view, with graphics showing the orchestra members, instruments and all, standing in the snow, the name change was a good one.
Valery Gergiev is widely recognized as the greatest modern interpreter of Tchaikovsky's music and the Mariinsky Orchestra holds a peerless reputation in the repertoire. These acclaimed performances were filmed at Salle Pleyel in Paris during January 2010 and directed by Andy Sommer. The themes of fate and death pervade Tchaikovsky's final symphonies. The composition of the fourth symphony coincided with the breakdown of Tchaikovsky's marriage and a failed suicide attempt and the sixth symphony premiered shortly before Tchaikovsky's death. The disc includes a bonus interview of Maestro Gergiev directed by Tommy Pearson.
Matthew Bourne’s triumphant modern re-interpretation of SWAN LAKE turned tradition upside down, taking the dance world by storm. Now firmly crowned as a modern day classic, this iconic production is perhaps best-known for replacing the traditional female corps de ballet with a menacing male ensemble. Matthew Bourne blends dance, humour and spectacle with extravagant, award-winning designs by Lez Brotherston, to create a provocative and powerful Swan Lake for our times.
Matthew Bourne’s SLEEPING BEAUTY sees the choreographer return to the music of Tchaikovsky to complete the trio of the composer’s ballet masterworks that started in 1992 with Nutcracker! and, most famously, in 1995, with the international hit Swan Lake. Bourne takes this date as his starting point, setting the Christening of Aurora, the story’s heroine, in the year of the ballets first performance; the height of the Fin de siècle period when fairies, vampires and decadent opulence fed the gothic imagination. As Aurora grows into a young woman, we move forwards in time to the more rigid, uptight Edwardian era; a mythical golden age of long Summer afternoons, croquet on the lawn and new dance crazes. Years later, awakening from her century long slumber, Aurora finds herself in the modern day; a world more mysterious and wonderful than any Fairy story!
If one is searching for an extra-musical heading under which to bracket the con- tent of the Symphonies Nos. 4, 5 & 6 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, one cannot really avoid the word “fate”. Personal fate, to be exact. Thus his Symphony No. 4 (1876-78) was a frank confession straight from the soul, a subtle psychological portrait printed on paper. In a letter to his patroness, Nadezhda von Meck, he talked of “fate, this disastrous power, which prevents our urgent desire for happiness from achieving its objective”. After this, a further 11 years passed before Tchaikovsky attempted to compose another “purely” symphonic work – his Symphony No. 5.
Following the completion of the 4th’s subtle psychography, 11 years would pass before Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikowsky would return to the composition of a ‘purely’ symphonic work – the 5th Symphony (the composer considered his mighty Manfred Symphony dating from 1885 as his only explicitly programmatic symphony). Despite having just returned from a spectacularly received European concert tour, he commenced the project in a state of complete exhaustion, self-doubt & uncertainty. From his new country residence in Klin, he wrote in the spring of 1888: “I frequently have doubts about my own abilities & wonder if it is not time to stop, & if my creativity has not been stretched to the limit.” His comments in a letter to his benefactor, Nadeshda von Meck, in June, are similar; he fears that “the well may be dry.”
Not many world famous composers have been equally successful at writing both absolute and programme music. Moreover, only a mere handful has managed to achieve something truly extraordinary in both genres. One of these coposers was Peter Tchaikovsky. When inspired by great literature, his passion for reading likely stood him in good stead: after all, as far as Tchaikovsky was concerned, reading ranked ‘among the greatest moments of pleasure’.