TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No 7. Piano Concerto No 3
Even those who can’t get enough Tchaikovsky might not find a convincing case for these two might-have-beens: the Symphony No 7 that he worked on in 1891 92, then abandoned and later began recycling into what’s now called the Piano Concerto No 3. Still, musicians keep trying out the Semyon Bogatryryev completion of the symphony, one of the first being Eugene Ormandy with the Philadelphia Orchestra, whose 1962 recording at least has sonic glamour to recommend it (RCA, 9/62).
This new set is at least the fifth recording. The music sounds and behaves like Tchaikovsky but, aside from some lyrical moments in the Andante, fails to make you care. All of the Tchaikovskian gestures are there but without compelling content. It sounds like the composer on mood-stabilising medication. And that’s not how we like him.
One can almost imagine the E flat Symphony was a dry run for the conceptually daring Symphony No 6, written the following year perhaps with a clearer idea of what the composer wanted to do. Though the piano concerto has survived in a greater state of fruition, perhaps Tchaikovsky would have eventually abandoned that project. The inspiration just isn’t there.
Performances are just fine and the sound quality is sumptuous, making this disc a solid recommendation for those whose curiosity gets the best of them. Those who already have the pairing of this symphony and piano concerto conducted by Neeme Järvi won’t find any new revelations here. Lilya Zilberstein gives a well-considered performance but Järvi’s Geoffrey Tozer generates more needed electricity.