, July 2012
The current SACD may well blow your mind, if it doesn’t blow your sound system first.
This Tchaikovsky Fifth is of such persuasive power and eloquence it may just convince you that it’s the composer’s greatest symphony. Fate, seen as inner conflict and turmoil in the Fourth Symphony, is transformed in the Fifth into majestic triumph.
Kitaenko maintains a tight grip over the orchestra, profiling the march-like tread of the first movement’s main theme in sharp relief against the yearning second subject. The entire score, from beginning to end, is masterfully calculated as to tempo and timing of dramatic events to make the most of Tchaikovsky’s gradually building tension. But the best is reserved for the finale, in which Kitaenko unleashes all of that pent-up energy in one, huge, explosive paroxysm.
The Cologne ensemble, probably on no one’s list of the world’s top 10 orchestras, sounds like it should be. The players have obviously been drilled, disciplined, and prepared to within an inch of their lives, and they perform as if their futures hang in the balance on every single note. The brass section plays with a wonderfully smooth, blended sound that is at once mellow yet penetratingly focused, like high-beam headlights. The winds are bright and perfectly balanced. And above, or through it all, come the strings, rich and creamy with a slightly darkened finish that suits Tchaikovsky’s Russian sound so well.
This is not only a Tchaikovsky Fifth you may well listen to again and again to the exclusion of all others but it’s a demonstration-quality recording you won’t believe until you’ve heard it…this is urgently recommended. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare