An Inconsistent Tchaikovsky

A haphazard performance that fails to do any justice.

Composer: Tchaikovsky
Repertoire: Symphony No.4; The Seasons
Artists: Susan Gritton (soprano), Gerald Finley (baritone), LSO and Chorus/Richard Hickox; Philadelphia Orchestra/Christoph Eschenbach (piano)
Rating: 3/5

Genre: Vocal
Label: Ondine ODE 1104-5

Expectations run high for Tchaikovsky’s ever-popular Fourth Symphony with exponents as distinguished as these, here performing live in Philadelphia. But despite some moments of marvellous intensity, the energy is peculiarly paced, repeatedly losing momentum and sometimes threatening to fizzle out altogether. Sluggish tempi are adopted in the first and final movements; odd, flagging rubatos disrupt the simplicity of the slow movement’s folk-like melody; and the music often sags under the weight of its own richness. Eschenbach’s piano playing is enjoyably limpid in The Seasons, though.