Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Symphony No. 5 in E minor
Fantasy Overture 'Romeo and Juliet'

Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria
Conducted by Herrera de la Fuente
GUILD GMCD 7205 [67.31]

I first heard of the expression 'A Curate's Egg' when reading a review from a (very early) issue of the 'Penguin Guide to Bargain Records'. I have always felt that it neatly sums up many classical recordings and it particularly applies to this CD of Tchaikovsky which is certainly 'Good in Parts'

Guild do not state in their booklet whether these performances have been released before - I had not come across them - even though the recording date is given as 1987. The orchestra was brought together annually in Mexico City by Herrera de la Fuente from 'distinguished musicians from all over the world'. From the rather old fashioned timbre of many of the instruments it is likely that South American musicians were in the preponderance, such as the French Horn soloist, Guelfo Nalli from the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, who plays most musically in the Symphony but with a high level of vibrato and euphonium-like tone. Indeed the wind section, in particular, suffers from less than state-of-the-art sound production, as, after the famous slow movement horn solo, it comes as a bit of a shock to hear a very reedy oboe then a metallic sounding clarinet enter in direct contrast to the rich plumminess of the horn. The last to enter at this point, however, is the fine sounding bassoon who could well be a player from the European/American school.

The contrasts continue. After a rather lumbering first movement, the Symphony's slow movement is beautifully shaped by Fuente and he achieves a remarkable feeling of calm which occasionally rises to the mesmeric. It's also good to hear the important tympani part given due prominence (Tchaikovsky uses no other percussion instruments in the Fifth).

The final movement could be described as straight-laced, but the orchestra and conductor conspire to produce a real feeing of nobility and the final pages raise the temperature within the confines of an essentially classical reading.

The overture is less good with the love music failing to take wing. Nevertheless the CD's sound is good and there are many interesting sights, some interestingly new, to be seen along the journey. Worth buying for a different view.

Simon Foster



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