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  Esoteric -
  ESSG-90037/38 (2 discs)
  Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 4, 5 & 6 - Mravinsky
  Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F minor Op. 36, Symphony No. 5 in E minor Op. 64, Symphony No. 6 in B minor Op. 74 "Pathetique"

Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Yevgeny Mravinsky (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 3

Review by Jonalogic July 14, 2010 (10 of 20 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I'll start with a question. Why do strange folk like me buy stupidly expensive SACD remasters of 40-50 year old analog recordings? Are we totally deranged? Yes, of course, that goes without saying, but anyway...

1) For great, classic performances or
2) For great old analogue sound
3) On a really good day, for both!

Well, one gets guaranteed gold star great performances of Tchaiikovsky's last three symphonies here, of course, which have never been surpassed. But the sound is, frankly, hideous. Muddy, thick and completely treble-less. I know this is a DG recording and it has always been problematical, but this is beyond the pale. Despite the performances, this is actually unlistenable.

So I dug out the heavily criticised straight RBCD from DG; I hate to say this, but this sounds a LOT better- clearer, less muddy, more treble, as much air and - all in all- much more listenable. Needless to say, even a late and nasty vinyl pressing sounds better. What were Esoteric smoking at the time?

And don't start me on the packaging. I think that the cardboard wraparound is cheap, does not properly protect the discs and will not wear well over the years. Moreover, the cover just refers to Tchaik 5, and doesn't mention 4 and 6. Cheap... Even I could have Photoshopped this with my eyes closed. And the loose bits of assorted paper floating around are not clever, either- for a super-premium price, I think we're entitled to expect better.

My advice- buy the straight RBDC and save the money for one of Esoteric's better recuts- such as the Maazel/Sibelius. Now THAT is a differents story altogether...

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Review by mwgfrg October 15, 2010 (9 of 11 found this review helpful)
I read the two previous reviews of these justly famous old recordings and couldn't resist chiming in. Stvnharr raises an excellent point: all comments on sonics are dependent on the equipment used. I have rarely had anything but positive responses to any of the Esoteric reissues, but I listen through top of the line Esoteric digital (P-03, D-03 and G-ORb) and analog (C-03 preamp) equipment, and it could well be that the SACDs are biased in favor of the Esoteric "house sound", which I think really means that the discs lean toward a more blended, rounded sound than usual digital discs, leaving high level clarification of the massed sound to the playback equipment to sort out. I tossed my DG Originals CDs after comparing them to the recent Japanese SHM-CD reissues, which are the clearest transfers I have heard, but through Esoteric equipment the SACDs more than compensate with a richer, fuller sound which still has more clarity than the original analog releases. (As to those, the original DG LPs were a bit opaque, the British-pressed reissues much cleaner, and the 90's German audiophile reissue of the 5th sounds very similar to the SACDs through very good playback equipment, clear enough and quite rich and full.) So my rating overall is 4.5--3.5 generally and 5.0 compared to previous issues. I only add that I am a huge fan of all the Esoteric reissues with the exception of Karajan's Brahms 3rd/Dvorak 8th, which is a loser under any standards, but that could be largely a result of what I listen through.

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Review by stvnharr October 11, 2010 (9 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This set was originally scheduled in the Universal Japan SACD 2004 release. I was quite excited as I had never had, or heard, this set in any format, and really looking forward to the sacd release. But when the Universal discs were released, this one was not included. So when this was announced as a release in the Esoteric series, I found myself interested, but put off by the high cost. Nevertheless, I now have it.

These are classic recorded performances, and all seem to agree.

My first few listens to the symphonies left me a little perplexed. The sound was big into the room, but there was an opaque cloudiness to the instrumental lines that just didnít seem right. Jonís review seemed to confirm this view to me.
However I have recently made significant changes and refinements in my playerís circuitry, as well as make a slight adjustment to my speaker set up. And Iíve had another run through this set.
I was like WOW, as the change in the sound of the music is significant. Gone is the opaque cloudiness and everything has wonderful clear instrumental lines. It is a totally different experience listening to these symphonies now. The sound is quite good.

The three symphonies were recorded in two different venues. The 4th was recorded in Brent Town Hall, Wembley, London. The 5th and 6th were recorded 6 weeks later in the Musikverein, Wien. The 4th has a slightly different sound to the 5th and 6th, venue related Iím sure. And between the 5th and 6th, I find the 6th to have slightly better sound.

Given that I now have a drastically different view of this set, as opposed to the other review, which I once somewhat agreed with, as far as sound, perhaps this set is more sensitive to issues such as system synergy and set up, than most discs. Other discs Iíve listened to since my changes havenít had the radical change that I have heard here.
Yet, we all hear what we hear, and often just conclude itís all in the disc, good or bad. But nothing has changed with the disc, only the changes as described above.

BTW, the packaging is standard Japanese digipak packaging. With a two disc set there is no room to paste or tuck a booklet, and so it is loose in the packaging. I found it quite nice that Esoteric also included the original English notes from the original LP release. The printing on the notes is quite small, and you may need a magnifying glass to read them. Just as well that they are loose and portable. Perhaps it also helps that I use mylar sleeves over all my disc covers.

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Works: 3  

Peter Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4 in F minor, TH 27 Op. 36
Peter Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 5 in E minor, TH 29 Op. 64
Peter Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 6 in B minor, TH 30 Op. 74 "Pathétique"