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  PRD/DSD 350 053
  Yevgeny Mravinsky in Moscow
  Schubert: Symphony No. 7 (8) in B minor D.759 "Unfinished", Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F minor Op. 36

Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Yevgeny Mravinsky (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Recorded Live in Moscow 24 April 1959

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Related titles: 1

Reviews: 2

Review by Jonalogic February 10, 2011 (9 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is a quite exceptional historic SACD. It contains two epic and thought-provoking performances of symphonic 'warhorses' performed live by a truly legendary conductor and his great orchestra. Mravinsky and the Leningrad Philharmonic, who were together for over 40 years, define one of the greatest musical combinations of the 20th - or any other - century. What's more, the sound on this release is better than we would have any right to expect.

Do not expect routine performances. Starting with the Schubert, this is quite unlike any interpretation you will ever hear. All conductors seem to treat the Unfinished like a strange, sentimental two-movement 'farewell' symphony. By contrast, Mravinsky recognises and delineates its structure with exceptional force and clarity, and it really sounds for once - genuinely - like an opening adagio and second movement andante of an epic 4-movement symphony; and the 'con moto' of the second movement really means what it says.

At the risk of hyperbole, the result is truly revelatory. You might necessarily not like it, but you should definitely hear it.

Mravinsky's Tchaikovsky 4 may not come as quite so much of a surprise; anyone familiar with his classic reading on DG will know roughly what to expect. What they may not expect, however, is a continuation of that stark, brutal and sentiment-free approach, projected with even more clarity and power. And if you think that the superhuman playing of the last movement was possible only in a well-rehearsed and controlled studio environment, moreover, think again! If anything, this live performance is even more hair-rising and electrifying.

Never has this music seemed to me to foreshadow quite so clearly the bleak world of Shostakovich. Needless to say, Mravinsky premiered many of the later master's symphonies, so the link cannot be casual. It is part of Mravinsky's considered but passionate mastery of Russian music.

Those familiar with the shrieking sound of Russian Melodiya vinyl might fear the worst for this 1959 live sound from the Moscow Conservatory. They'd be wrong. It sounds like tube gear was used. In consequence, orchestral timbres are remarkably well preserved. There is also plenty of space. Balances are a bit odd, bass is light and dynamic range constrained - but what did you expect? However, the sound is more than good enough for the magical music-making to shine through.

At the risk of provoking a few, I would say that overall sound quality here is better than on the ham-fisted DG Tchaikovsky symphonic series, in all its various incarnations. Hence the relatively good marking awarded here.

But the sound quality, really, is incidental here. They really don't make music like this any more. We are lucky to have this document of a a legendary conductor and great orchestra playing out of their collective skins. Take a shower and lie down after listening.

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Review by JJ March 27, 2009 (6 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Dating from 1959, this Russian concert allows us to hear and savor an atypical "Incomplete" by Schubert in which, as Pierre-Emile Barbier notes: "Mravinsky, while respecting the continuity of the melody, almost always adagio, gives the work once again its natural structure in three episodes by eliciting at the preliminary allegro an incredible increase in dynamic at the development in E minor of the basse chords and trombones, and the re-exposing of the theme in the strange tone of B minor." The result is almost hypnotic and leads you to the very end on a musical road that is both powerful and enriching. This impression is even more confirmed in Tchaikovsky's Symphony N°4 in which Mravinsky relentlessly leads the listener forward. Mercilessly marching on, the musical discourse he offers thus seems to truly transcend the Russian composer's score, making it something exalted, piercing, howling, but without pathos, without vulgarity, without exacerbated "fatum", leaving the listener agog before such expressive force. Vis à vis the recording, the DSD remastering uniquely in stereo fully restores tones in their natural verity. Here then is a top of the list SACD, offering more than a concert... A rare musical experience.

Jean-Jacques Millo
Translation Lawrence Schulman

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Works: 2  

Franz Schubert - Symphony No. 7 (8) in B minor, D. 759 "Unfinished"
Peter Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4 in F minor, TH 27 Op. 36