Yannick Nézet-Séguin's first symphonic recording with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra on Deutsche Grammophon is of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor, "Pathétique," which the conductor has known intimately throughout his career. Due to his familiarity with the music, this is a solid reading that holds its own against the large number of recordings of this symphony, so listeners who need a first-rate version can be assured of the interpretation and the performance. Yet because this is one of the most frequently recorded classical pieces of all time, one may wonder what Nézet-Séguin brings to it that makes his rendition necessary. Perhaps his sense of pacing and calculated use of rubato for dramatic effect make it feel more organic than most, and his sudden shifts of tempo and emphasis on heightened dynamics make this one of the most interesting versions to follow. But in the end, there's not enough to distinguish it from the competition, so listeners should not expect a major revelation. It's still the same warhorse. To fill out the CD, Nézet-Séguin accompanies violinist Lisa Batiashvili in a selection of Tchaikovsky's Romances, Op. 6 and Op. 73, of which the most famous is None but the lonely heart (track 8). These pieces serve as a welcome palate cleanser after the rich but not overly ripe performance of the "Pathétique," and it's interesting to hear Nézet-Séguin's piano playing, which is quite restrained and poetic in feeling. Batiashvili carries the melodic lines with passionate expression and a warm singing tone, so the most compelling music making can be found in these filler tracks.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 6 in B minor, op. 74 "Pathétique"|
1. Adagio - Allegro non troppo - Andante - Moderato mosso - Andante - Moderato assai - Allegro vivo - Andante come prima - Andante mosso
|Romances, op 6|
|Romances, op 73|