Symphony No.3 in F, Op.90
Symphony No.6 in B minor, Op.74 (Pathétique)
Novaya Rossiya State Symphony Orchestra
Recorded at concerts in Great Hall, Moscow Conservatory – Brahms on 7 February 2005, Tchaikovsky on 27 April 2004
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: June 2011
CD No: ICA CLASSICS ICAC 5023
Duration: 81 minutes
This maybe thought an unexpected release from the ICA label, one steeped in historical material. However from our own time, Yuri Bashmet, considered a charismatic viola-player (who can also be ill-prepared in that role), turns to conducting and comes through with flying colours in two symphonies that set considerable challenges to even the most authoritative and technically-blessed maestro.
This generous – Life to Death – coupling begins with Brahms’s nominally autumnal Third Symphony, Bashmet establishing personality with a maybe-thought mannered steep crescendo on the second chord of the opening “Frei aber froh” (Free but Happy) motto. This launches a swift, springy, warm-sounding, flexible and expressively played account. The Soviet-style timbres are welcome, not least the ‘wobbly’ horns. Bashmet takes time to shape the work, but without indulgence, alive to the music’s confidences and pride.
Tchaikovsky’s life-extinguishing symphony is also compelling, a dark performance, the first movement spacious and tempestuous, full of contrasts and character. The second movement Waltz is light and elegant and the succeeding March goes like the wind. The slow finale is deeply-felt and a torrent of emotion; the gong stroke, held longer than usual, is particularly effective.
Captured in good sound (if without opening ambience before the Tchaikovsky begins and with applause retained only after the Brahms – it would have been even more intrusive following the ‘Pathétique’), these performances are good to hear – both for their musical insights and the excellence and individuality of an orchestra that might otherwise be denied us.