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  Ondine -
  ODE 1104-5
  Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4, The Seasons - Eschenbach
  Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4, The Seasons (July to December)

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Christoph Eschenbach (piano, conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 4

Reviews: 1

Review by seth August 26, 2007 (9 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is not really a bad recording of the 4th, but it brings little to the catalogue.

Eschenbach's big 'innovation' is to play the first movement slow. And it's not just that the near 20 minute timing of the movement reflects its slowness -- it sounds and feels it. Everything is drawn out. Eschenbach seems to be trying to express the lyrical qualities of the music, searching for a level of depth and sophistication which I don't think exists. I greatly prefer the relentless forward momentum Szell offers in his recording.

Surprisingly, as micromanaged as the first movement is, the rest of the symphony follows without incident. There are some clever tempo changes in the final movement, and I particularly liked how Eschenbach brought the music to a dead halt in the section before the coda. As usual, Philadelphia's playing throughout is superb.

The filler is the second half of "The Seasons" (the first half was included on the recording of the 5th Symphony) performed by Eschenbach. A lot of critics have come down hard on the seasons. Yes, it's pretty much background music, but both Eschenbach and Tchaikovsky seem to be aware of this. I find that it makes for entertaining listening.

The sound quality is on par with other Philadelphia/Ondine recordings. The only complaint I have, is that since the levels are low to accommodate the huge dynamic range of the orchestra, and there is no apparent compression, the volume has to be cranked up for the 3rd movement. And when you do that, be sure to bring the volume back down before the 4th movement, because the bass drum comes through like a sonic boom. For those wondering, no tweaking was done in post-production. The bass drum had that much impact live in concert (which is one of the reasons why I bought this disc despite how much I disliked the 1st movement -- in recordings the bass drum often sounds like a timpani).

The first movement reflects what musicians and listeners find wrong with Eschenbach's tenure in Philadelphia. Even though it officially comes to an end this coming season, because of ecstatic reviews from a USA tour this past spring, Orchestra management has decided to bring Eschenbach back for a number of concerts in the 08-09 and 09-10 seasons. Hopefully future recordings will be more engaging than this one.

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Works: 2  

Peter Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4 in F minor, TH 27 Op. 36
Peter Tchaikovsky - The Seasons, TH 135 Op. 37a