Christian Lindberg / Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5; Swan Lake Suite

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Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 in E minor is one of the most frequently played and recorded works in the history of classical music, and the appearance of yet another recording practically requires a legal defense. Christian Lindberg's hybrid SACD with the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra offers a clear sounding reading in the audiophile format, and anyone who is looking for a solid performance where every note is audible need look no further. However, the reason for performing the Fifth hardly seems compelling. Indeed, it has simply become obligatory for all orchestras to get it into their discographies, and the fledgling Arctic Philharmonic is apparently getting this chore out of the way as fast as it can. Fast is the operative word for the first movement, too. Lindberg's tempo is excessively brisk, and he whips through it with such speed, one can barely count the pulse under Tchaikovsky's syncopations. Lindberg follows convention in the remaining movements, so his tempos are predictable, even though he cranks up the bombast in the Finale beyond expectations. Still, it's unclear that this version of the Fifth is necessary, and the fierce competition of recordings isn't reduced by its presence. The suite from the ballet Swan Lake is provided as appealing filler, though most listeners won't care much about it unless they are impressed by the symphony. They may be on hearing it, but in most respects, Lindberg's interpretation is quite comparable to other mainstream recordings and nothing to get excited about.

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