Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 6, 'Pathétique': a quick guide to essential recordings
Monday, May 24, 2021
Three highly recommended recordings: a modern choice, a classic and a legendary account
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Mystery surrounds the exact programme of the Pathétique Symphony - 'Let them guess', Tchaikovsky wrote to his nephew. But whatever may lie behind the notes, the Pathétique remains a supremely balanced musical utterance. Here are three outstanding, and widely contrasted, recordings.
The Modern Choice
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko (Onyx)
'Petrenko’s fast and furious approach once again pays off with invigorating performances which dispel Russian gloom. The RLPO play their socks off and must rank as one of the finest "Russian orchestras" in the UK today...'
The Legendary Choice
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra / Evgeny Mravinsky (DG)
'These stereo recordings are classics of the gramophone, landmarks not just of Tchaikovsky interpretation, but of recorded orchestral performances in general...'
The Classic Choice
Russian National Orchestra / Mikhail Pletnev (Erato)
'Here is a modern Pathétique to rival Mravinsky's (his 1960 Leningrad version was also recorded in London), a Russian orchestra to match up to the Leningrad Philharmonic, and a transition from piano to podium for Pletnev that is something to get excited about...'