Samuel Friedmann

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6; Sleeping Beauty

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This coupling of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 and Suite from The Sleeping Beauty offers enough for one listening, but not enough to be memorable. Conductor Samuel Friedmann and the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra have a capable grasp of the scores, but there is little spark of creativity, leaving only a dull familiarity to sustain these performances. Too often, the Russian strings smudge their lines in fast passages, the brass blast their notes in climaxes, and the winds grow timid in solos. Friedmann resorts too many times to some of the oldest tricks in the conducting textbook. He rushes transitions in the opening Allegro non troppo, distorts phrases in the closing Adagio lamentoso, and lets the brass and percussion take over in the central Allegro molto vivace's climax. There are things to enjoy here: Friedmann does effectively sustain the opening movement's dramatic argument, and the Russian musicians' do have a way with the second movement's broken waltz. But overall, this disc merely fills the 67 minutes it takes to listen to it. Arte Nova's digital sound is loud and colorful, but superficial.

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