Vladimir Fedoseyev / Gennady Rozhdestvensky

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4; Serenade for Strings

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Written at a particularly tumultuous time in life that included a sham marriage and a failed suicide attempt, Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony is filled with tragic elements, drama, and hints of fatalism that far exceed his previous three symphonies. This Alto album features celebrated Russian conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky leading the Russian Federation Large Symphony Orchestra in a 1988 recording of the gripping work. Having grown up immersed in the Russian musical culture, Rozhdestvensky's vision of Tchaikovsky is what listeners would hope and expect: an interpretation that equally highlights the angst and passion as well the subtle tenderness and delicacy. Rozhdestvensky chooses tempos different from what is customarily heard, including a more reserved first movement, a much quicker second movement, and a third movement so quick the pizzicato strings just barely maintain clear articulation. Sound quality of this performance is not ideal, with a particular lack of presence and definition in the lower register of the orchestra, but Rozhdestvensky's commanding vehemence still makes this recording worth checking out. Possessing better overall sound quality but equal amounts of detail and robustness is Vladimir Fedoseyev's reading of the Serenade for Strings with the Large Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio. Recorded in 1992, this piece is much more balanced across the ensemble. The Elegy is especially poignant and emotional and is joyously resolved in the spirited Finale.

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