Tchaikovsky’s 4th on Building a Library next Saturday (14th January)… any guesses as to my choices, or preferences of your own?

27 thoughts on “Tchaikovsky’s 4th on Building a Library next Saturday (14th January)… any guesses as to my choices, or preferences of your own?

  1. Robert Roy

    Well, the sentimental side of would love it to be the SNO under Sir Alexander Gibson, my guess is Mavrinsky with the Leningrad Philharmonic in their stereo.


    1. Hi Rob – well I can tell you that Mravinsky [stereo] is there, and (as you rightly guess) comes highly recommended, but not at the very top. It would be unfair to say more than that. Best. Rob


      1. anthony doyle

        I’m afraid that once. Movingly has been heard in the. Last 3 symphonies all others, including. Your top. Choice are ultimately slightly too civilised, finished and not unbridled.enough. . To that end, could you listen briefly even to the pristine classical remastering to see if it is worth the Duplication as it is expensive. Ta tony doylr


      2. As I recall slightly tamed and spatially widened but there’s not an enormous amount in it Tony. I’d say the DG has more edge (and packs a wallop), whereas the Pristine is more generally palatable. Best. Rob.


  2. Hi,
    A great symphony that has no 1 perfect recording for me. I hope Fricsay`s one gets a historical mention. The mono sound is amazing for its age and it is full of fire. Otherwise I really rate the manically driven Georges Szell LSO one,although some may find it too brittle. Great. Decca sound too. Erich Kleiber`s Tchaikovsky (both live and studio) is worth a look too although probably not for Building a library.
    I don`t like the Gergiev Vienna. 4th (such a shame when he wowed me with his Kirov. 6th symphony in the 1990s ) but there`s lots of interesting things in Pappano`s Rome set for EMI. Although fairly lightweight , he finds lots of detail particularly in the woodwind phrasing.

    Does Dorati get a mention? I only have him doing 1, 2 and 3 but I can imagine how good the rest of that Mercury cycle is.

    Can`t wait to hear Rob`s verdict.


  3. Hi Barney. Yes, Doráti gets a favourable mention, and so does Széll, and I would have mentioned Fricsay too (very exciting I agree) but there’s a fault with the CD transfer … as I recall an unseemly gap prior to the piu mosso section in the slow movement. Best.


  4. Not having heard every recording that’s come out since there are no doubt many treasures I’ve missed do I’m keenly looking forward to your survey, Rob! Until then, though I find it impossible to look past Mvrinsky and the Leningrad SO. Control and emotion need to be so well balanced in Tchaikovsky and I don’t know anyone better than Mvrinsky on record for that. Svetlanov with the Philharmonis in the eighties was magical in concert but as far as I know was never captured on disc.


    1. No, I don’t think there is a Mravinsky/Philharmonia version. I like his USSR version a lot though, but it doesn’t make the final reckoning … simply because of the sheer force of numbers. Best. Rob


  5. Glad to see (and not surprised) that the great Hungarians will be featured. I did wonder about Monteux … and Markevitch. As you’ll appreciate, I limit myself here to the veterans (and have noted your comment re: Mravinsky).
    Tchaikovsky 4 will always occupy a special place for me: the last two movements were played in a Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra schools’ concert when I was about 10. I was stunned and hooked.
    Andrew Ayton


  6. Geoff Burke

    Dorati was the one I purchased some 40+ years ago, I think, and it made quite an impression on me. I then rushed out and bought the 5th Symphony by Malcolm Sargent on Hallmark – the memory is not what it was Rob, apologies! Nevertheless Tchaikovsky was a crucial catalyst towards many other great composers and a lifelong love of classical music.


    1. Was for me too Geoff. My first [mono] copy of the LSO/Dorati was acquired from a Brick Lane market stall (ouch – my roots are showing!). Struck me as exciting and dignified then, and still does. Best.


  7. Geoff Burke

    I also bought the Symphony No. 6 with the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra, Josef Krips – again a mono LP. It’s all coming back now Rob haha!


  8. David Wood

    Available versions of Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 4

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado
    Wiener Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado (download)
    Utah Symphony Orchestra, Maurice Abravanel
    Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop
    NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo, Vladimir Ashkenazy (download)
    Philharmonia Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Hallé Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli
    Hallé Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli (live)
    Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Thomas Beecham
    Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Kálmán Berkes
    New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein (mono)
    New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein
    New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein (DVD)
    London Symphony Orchestra, Karl Böhm
    Tschechische Philharmonie, Karl Böhm
    Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Oleg Caetani (download)
    NBC Symphony Orchestra, Guido Cantelli
    Münchner Philharmoniker, Sergiu Celibidache
    London Symphony Orchestra, Antal Doráti
    Philadelphia Orchestra, Christoph Eschenbach
    Large Symphony Orchestra, Ministry of Culture, Russia, Vladimir Fedoseyev
    Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Fedoseyev (DVD)
    Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio, Vladimir Fedosseyev
    Budapest Festival Orchestra, Iván Fischer
    RIAS SO, Berlin, Ferenc Fricsay
    Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Wilhelm Furtwangler
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Daniele Gatti
    Mariinsky Orchestra, Valery Gergiev
    Mariinsky Orchestra, Valery Gergiev (DVD/Blu-ray)
    Vienna Philharmonic, Valery Gergiev
    Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Ghiaurov (download)
    SWR Sinfonieorchester des Südwestrundfunks, Michael Gielen
    Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink
    Anima Eterna Orchestra, Jos van Immerseel (download)
    Symphonieorchster des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Mariss Jansons
    Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Mariss Jansons
    Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi
    London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski
    Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan (DG)
    Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan (EMI/Warner)
    Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan (DVD)
    Philharmonia Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan
    Wiener Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan (download)
    Wiener Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan (DVD)
    Wiener Symphoniker, Herbert von Karajan
    Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Dmitrij Kitajenko
    NBC Symphony Orchestra, Erich Kleiber
    Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Erich Kleiber
    Philharmonia Orchestra, Ottto Klemperer
    London Philharmonic Orchestra, Ken-ichiro Kobayashi (download)
    Staatskapelle Dresden, Franz Konwitschny (download)
    Boston Symphony Orchestra, Serge Koussevitzky
    Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Rafael Kubelik
    Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Rafael Kubelik
    Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo, Alexander Lazarev (download)
    Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Adrian Leaper
    Arctic Philharmonic, Christian Lindberg
    Berliner Philharmoniker, Lorin Maazel
    Cleveland Orchestra, Lorin Maazel
    Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Lorin Maazel (download)
    Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Lorin Maazel
    Philharmonia Orchestra, Nikolai Malko
    French National Radio Orchestra, Igor Markevitch
    London Symphony Orchestra, Igor Markevitch
    Orchestra Sinfonica di Torino della RAI, Igor Markevitch
    Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Kurt Masur
    Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Zubin Mehta
    Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, Dmitri Mitropoulos
    Boston Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Monteux
    Boston Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Monteux
    Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Evgeny Mravinsky
    Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Evgeny Mravinsky
    Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR, Hans Müller-Kray (download)
    Boston Symphony Orchestra, Charles Munch
    Philharmonia Orchestra, Riccardo Muti
    City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons
    Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Eugene Ormandy
    Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy
    NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tadaaki Otaka (download)
    Berliner Philharmoniker, Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestre de Paris, Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra dell’ Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano
    Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko
    Russian National Orchestra, Mikhail Pletnev
    Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern, Christoph Poppen
    Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Andre Previn (download)
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Artur Rodzinski
    BBC Symphony Orchestra, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
    London Symphony Orchestra, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (download)
    Symphony Orchestra of the Ministry of Culture, Russian Federation, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
    Berliner Philharmoniker, Kurt Sanderling (DVD)
    Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Kurt Sanderling
    Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Hermann Scherchen
    Philharmonia Orchestra, Thomas Schippers
    Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra , Carl Schuricht
    Bamberger Symphoniker, José Serebrier
    Volgograd Philharmonic Orchestra, Edward Serov
    Philharmonia Orchestra, Constantin Silvestri (download)
    Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Russian Music Society, Yuri Siminov (download)
    Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin (download)
    Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Tugan Sokhiev
    Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti (download)
    Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti (DVD)
    American Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski
    USSR State Symphony Orchestra, Evgeny Svetlanov
    London Symphony Orchestra, George Szell
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Yuri Temirkanov
    Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Yuri Temirkanov (DVD)
    San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas
    San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas (DVD)
    Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Valek (download)
    Basel Symphony Orchestra, Walter Weller (download)
    Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, David Zinman
    Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden


  9. Petrushka

    There are some classic versions out there but my guess for your choice would be LPO/Vladimir Jurowski. This blew my socks off when I first heard it and it was like hearing the old warhorse afresh.


    1. An interesting guess Philip … and when I first heard it I thought it strong contender. But no, it doesn’t make the final reckoning … or should I say, rather more realistically (and modestly), it doesn’t make MY final reckoning! Thanks. Rob.


  10. Petrushka

    Rob, do you know a live Mravinsky/Leningrad PO account from April 24 1959 in Moscow and issued on a Praga Digital Hybrid SACD (PRD/DSD 350 053)? it’s in ‘bi-channel stereo’ and whatever processing it’s gone through it sounds pretty good. The performance is absolutely incendiary as you might expect from this source.

    Never likely to be a first choice but one for the curious and it does sound many times better than you would think. Coupled with a Schubert Unfinished from the same concert.


    1. Hi Petrushka, many thanks. Yes I know that. There are also Mravinsky versions with the USSR Symphony and Czech Phil, but there are issues over provenance that still don’t appear to have been solved definitively. Best known among the ‘other’ Mravinsky versions is the 1957 Melodiya mono. I may be wrong but I seem to recall that the Praga was an ‘aired’ version of that … I don’t have any of the CDs here, though I have heard and compared them. I’d need to check (all this is from memory). Yes, they’re all stunning in their different ways. But it’s irrelevant in the present context because if I’m to make a general Mravinsky recommendation the DG stereo version – which is also electrifying – is obviously the one to go for. Best.


  11. David Wood

    I’ve often wondered how a Building a Library presenter compiles a shortlist when there are so many recordings available. Where does one start?


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