Tchaikovsky's Fifth never sounded better

Francesca da Rimini Symphony Orchestra capture the brooding, thrilling brilliance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5

Composer:  Tchaikovsky
Repertoire: Symphony No. 5 
Artists: Francesca da Rimini Symphony Orchestra of Bavarian Radio/Mariss Janson
Rating: 5/5 
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Berlin Klassik 900105

The Music Tchaikovsky wrote his Fifth Symphony when he was at the height of his powers as a composer, yet also tormented by his suppressed homosexuality and related depression. The music veers between thrilling extremes of fate-haunted brooding and wild exhilaration. 

The Performance For a much-recorded work like this, nothing but the best is going to do. Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra provide it in spades. As the music surges along, Jansons sees to it that nothing is exaggerated, and the orchestra’s exceptional playing offers real grace besides all that formidable German firepower. Francesca da Rimini, based on a scene from Dante’s Inferno, is one of Tchaikovsky’s greatest and most moving masterpieces, and it too is performed on a level that does it wonderful justice. 

The Verdict These live concert recordings are truly state-of-the-art (I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a finer all-round one of the Fifth Symphony). And for good measure there’s the gorgeous, glowing acoustic of Munich’s Philharmonie hall. 

Want more? The same team performs the Fourth Symphony on Sony (82876 77718-2), with Yefim Bronfman in the First Piano Concerto.