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David Hurwitz, September 2013

This classic set offers a very personal but tremendously satisfying view of the Tchaikovsky symphonies. Stravinsky loved Tchaikovsky, and you might wonder why, given that the two men couldn’t have been further apart, aesthetically. But beyond the superheated emotionalism, Stravinsky appreciated Tchaikovsky’s elegance, his rhythmic ebullience, his precision, and the crystalline scoring. These are the very qualities that Markevitch highlights, and in so doing he turns in one of the most personal and satisfying views of the symphonies ever recorded.

…the playing of the London Symphony is remarkably disciplined for this period (early to mid 60s), another testament to Markevitch’s commanding podium presence. This is quite an achievement, and an essential component of any serious Tchaikovsky collection. © Read complete review

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, January 2012

The present four CD set…is very good and refreshing. Honest and engaging analogue sound is a strength… © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Gramophone, April 2011

Roughly contemporaneous with…the same label’s Tchaikovsky symphony cycle by the LSO under Dorati is a rival Tchaikovsky cycle, from Philips, where the same orchestra is directed by composer-conductor Igor Markevitch. It’s fascinating to compare Dorati’s no-nonsense approach with Markevitch’s highly imaginative brand of musical wilfulness, which at times approximates the effect that Willem Mengelberg achieved on his legendary pre-war Concertgebouw recordings. Markevitch’s Tchaikovsky is emotive, attentive to inner detail, very flexible and, for the most part, extremely exciting. The problem with this particular reissue is that there are at least two maddening “drop-outs”, one at around 1’30” into the Third Symphony’s Andante elegiaco, the other at around 7’20” into the finale of the Fourth. I’m sure these errors will be spotted (if indeed they’re common to all pressings) but do make sure your set doesn’t include them.

Film Music: The Neglected Art, February 2011

There are three unique things about his Third Symphony. It was the only one of the six symphonies that he chose to write in a major key and the name given to it ‘Polish’ has nothing to do with Poland and their music in the least. With the dance structure one could easily say that this is a ‘Mozartean’ structured one. A more appropriate name would have been ‘German’ as one can hear plenty of it. It was given the name ‘Polish’ from the finale’s Tempo di Polacca marking after his death. What is somewhat ironic about that is the Russian Royal Court used it as an imperialistic style dance making it highly nationalistic in nature. Written in 1875 it has not gone through major revisions. Tchaikovsky seemed to like it and left it alone. It was the only symphony that had five movements with the extra movement fitting into the work quite nicely

An ominous extended note begins the first movement which quickly moves into an allegro with one of Tchaikovsky’s proud majestic themes. Over the course of 15 minutes it is given time to fully develop with all orchestral sections contributing. The allegro moderato of the second movement is a woodwind driven melody with the flute clarinet, bassoon, and flute playing a part. The third movement, a slow waltz with the solos from the bassoon and then the horn are a very moving part of the symphony. The scherzo, given the adjective ghostlike by Richard Taruskin, is quite appropriate. The finale is a rousing upbeat dance used by the court as previously discussed. One can hear the influence that Mozart had on Tchaikovsky in the middle section of this 5th movement. It has a frantic conclusion.

The recording was done originally on the Philips label in 1965 as Igor Marketvitch (1912–1983) did the complete cycle of the six Tchaikovsky symphonies in the sixties. His set was the standard by many as the list of available recordings was considerable during that era. Reissued in the 90’s as part of the duo budget series from Philips it was a tremendous bargain as one could obtain three symphonies for the cost of one premium CD. This set continues the tradition of offering fine readings at a reasonable amount ($20–30 price range). The Ukrainian composer/conductor is right at home with this symphony and seems comfortable performing it.

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11:59:03 PM, 27 April 2015
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