Dresden Staatskapelle

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5

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Recorded in 1978 by VEB Deutsche Schallplatten Berlin, this sturdy performance by Siegfried Kurz and the Dresden Staatskapelle of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 in E minor has real staying power, and Brilliant's periodic reissues have kept this rendition available on CD for years. One might wonder why sustaining this recording's shelf life is necessary, especially when so many all-digital recordings of this piece are issued annually, but listening makes it all apparent: Kurz and his orchestra deliver this popular symphony with remarkable energy, excitement, and emotion, and their commitment to the music is firm, giving it great passion and force. Granted, there are a few slight problems of technique and intonation that prevent this from being one of the smoothest performances ever, and the recorded sound is not the clearest or deepest, even among ADD versions. However, it's easy to dispense with some niceties of execution or reproduction for the sake of a genuinely musical interpretation, and Kurz ensures that the pugnacious first movement has a believable crisis, the Andante cantabile a rich lyrical beauty, the Valse a delicate refinement worthy of Tchaikovsky's great ballets, and the Finale a feeling of hard-won triumph that overcomes the potential for shallowness or silliness in the final stretch. While this is not the last word in Tchaikovsky Fifths, it is a viable recording that has stood the test of time and is likely to endure for at least a few more reissues.

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