Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 & Fantasie Op. 32

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“Andris Nelsons, the CBSO and Tchaikovsky have become synonymous, not least on disc, and the latest in their series of recordings will be eagerly awaited after this week’s performances set down for the Orfeo label.

The tone-poem Francesca da Rimini, sometimes seen as a poor relation to the more obvious story-line of Romeo and Juliet, was delivered with searing engagement under Nelsons. He unleashed a whirlwind circle of Dante’s hell, reassembling it at the end, but not before the Francesca’s wonderful narrative (Joanna Patton rising triumphantly to the solo clarinet’s challenges), crowned by fluttering flutes decorating the cellos’ final declaration of doomed, forbidden love. This was an urgent, gripping reading, and so was Nelsons’ account of Tchaikovsky’s tremendous Fourth Symphony, brilliantly responsive to its structure, ebbing and flowing in emotional intensity, and a tribute all the time to the immense trust and love between conductor and orchestra. So many instrumental delights (hopefully some, such as skirling woodwind scarcely heard at the heart of the first movement will undoubtedly be picked up the recording): apocalyptic brass, bassoon and oboe solos to get under the skin, and a massed string pizzicato sounding like one giant balalaika.” Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post 4th June 2011