Tchaikovsky & Stravinsky

0 of 5 stars

Suite No.3 in G, Op.55
The Fairy’s Kiss – Divertimento

Russian National Orchestra
Vladimir Jurowski

Recorded in October 2004 in DZZ Studio, Moscow

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: January 2006
5186 061
[CD/SACD Hybrid]
Duration: 64 minutes

An appropriate coupling in that Stravinsky used some of Tchaikovsky’s piano music and songs in his ballet Le baiser de la fée and made them his own.

Vladimir Jurowski lends intelligence, a keen ear and a generous heart to both works here.

The opening ‘Elégie’ of Tchaikovsky’s wonderful Suite begins in dreamy fashion, the eloquent melodies moulded with affection (but not made saccharine) and spiced by pungent-sounding and decorous woodwinds. The double basses’ pulsation in ‘Valse mélancolique’ adds motion to a movement that is here light on its toes and sparkling, and gaily dancing in contrast to the heartfelt lyricism of the first movement (not always is such distinction made between these opening movements). A fleet, punctilious ‘Scherzo’ follows, the trio touched in with enviable subtlety. Often extracted is the concluding ‘Tema con variazioni’, by far the longest movement, which is brimful of invention. Jurowski deftly handles Tchaikovsky’s varied characterisation and Sergey Galaktionov plays the lengthy violin solo with aplomb. If the closing Polonaise is pushed through somewhat and lacking grandeur, there’s excitement and incident aplenty.

Jurowski can be a tad finicky at times, even rather calculated, and in the light of recordings of the G major Suite by Ansermet, Maazel, Svetlanov and (Variations only) Norman Del Mar, if Jurowski isn’t an automatic first choice, his version is a definite for the collection. Anyone unfamiliar with Tchaikovsky’s endearing Suite can start here with confidence.

Jurowski’s view of ‘The Fairy’s Kiss’ (here curiously termed “Ballet Suite” rather than the designated Divertimento) balances pathos and poise, is lightly turned and lucidly balanced, and gives much pleasure. Indeed Stravinsky’s wit, feeling and cleverness (the right sort!) is ideal for Jurowski, and he has set down a version of the ‘suite’ that is a joy from start to finish.

Throughout, the use of antiphonal violins opens up the sound-picture, and the recording is excellent – no tricks or falsehoods (and neither is the transfer one of those awful too-loud ones that squeezes out dynamic variety). In short, this is a discerning production for discerning listeners.

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