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Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat (1893) [16:23]
Philip Fowke (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Wilfried Boettcher
rec. Watford Town Hall, England, 22-23 January 1984
Andante cantabile (String Quartet No. 1 in D) (1871) [6:15]
Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields/Sir Neville Marriner
rec. No. 1 Studio Abbey Road, London, February 1980
Symphony No. 6 in B minor ‘Pathétique’ (1893) [47:51]
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Litton
rec. Wessex Hall, Poole Arts Centre, Poole, Dorset, England, February 1980
CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE 2283752 [69:43]
Experience Classicsonline


The most interesting item in this Tchaikovsky reissue, is his Third Piano Concerto. Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor has proved so popular that it has over-shadowed his Second Piano Concerto significantly and his Third Piano Concerto almost completely. This is a pity because there is much to admire in these other two works. The supremely melodic Second Piano Concerto, in particular, has an outstanding central movement with marvellous writing for solo violin and solo cello.

This Third Piano Concerto in E flat was originally planned as a three movement work but only the opening 16½ minute-or-so first movement, an Allegro brilliante, was completed. The other two movements, an Andante and Finale never were. Although these other two movements were orchestrated after Tchaikovsky’s death by Taneyev and published as Op. 79 the completed work never caught on. This Third Concerto may not live up to its two predecessors but it certainly has its moments. There are bravura passages together with Tchaikovskian angst as well as impressive and challenging piano writing to which Philip Fowke responds with élan.

The Andante cantabile from Tchaikovsky’s First String Quartet is a popular choice. Its simple, plaintive nostalgia is nicely caught by Marriner’s Academy players. The most substantial item in this programme is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B minor ‘Pathétique’. It is one of the most recorded symphonies in the repertoire. I will not bore readers with details of the controversy surrounding its conception - these are too well known. This 1980 vintage recording has much to offer, notably a blistering Allegro molto vivace third movement march and a nicely paced, sensitive and heart-felt finale. It is a very acceptable filler for those bent on acquiring the Piano Concerto. Even so, there are more intense and ultimately more rewarding Pathétiques. I can think, for instance, of Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and of the Russians: Mravinsky, Gergiev and Pletnev all of whom score highly. Jansons’s Chandos CD is very good, so too is Furtwängler’s historical mono account with the Berlin Philharmonic again, now available on Naxos.

Tchaikovsky’s truncated Third Piano Concerto proven, here, to be more than just a curio together with a very acceptable Pathétique.

Ian Lace

 


 


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