Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5; Capriccio italien; The Voyevoda

Neeme Järvi

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Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5; Capriccio italien; The Voyevoda Review

by James Leonard

BIS's super audio sound really is better than its standard digital sound, and, considering that BIS' standard digital has been at the apex of digital technology for 20 years, that is quite an achievement. As embodied in this recording of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 with the Gothenburg Symphony under Neeme Järvi, BIS' super audio sound is clearer, more immediate, more present, more real than virtually any other digital sound in the world. It is truly a marvel of technical progress.

So, too, is the conducting by Järvi a marvel of progress. While the severely limited Järvi has always been at his best with the Gothenburg -- think of his 1985 recording of Berwald's Symphonies on DG -- his Tchaikovsky recordings with them have been far better than the best recordings Järvi has ever made. The Gothenburg's warm colors and cool intensity bring out the best in Järvi, his fascination with colors and his relaxed enthusiasm. More importantly, the Gothenburg's accomplished virtuosity nearly covers for Järvi's many technical deficiencies, his difficulty keeping to a tempo, his disinclination to attend to balances, his tendency to over-drive rhythms. While it is by no means in the same exalted class as Mravinsky's or Svetlanov's, much less Gergiev's or Temirkanov's, Järvi's Fifth does have a sense of the work's hysterical energy and histrionic drama. For the fillers, Järvi's Voyevoda is a darkly colored, dourly gloomy, and certainly the best recording of this rarely recorded work, and his Capriccio Italien is brilliantly colored, irresistibly rhythmic, and possibly one of the better recordings of this often recorded work.

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