Tchaikovsky — Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique”

Sony Classical, 2017 CD, LP

Entitled the “Pathétique”, Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony has always been an important work in Teodor Currentzis’ conducting career, since being deeply affected as a teenager by a recording conducted by Evgeny Mravinsky. Later on, Currentzis would study with Mravinsky’s former classmate Ilya Musin, who was renowned for his authoritative interpretation of Russian repertoire and his legacy of gifted protégés.

Teodor Currentzis:
“What I want to bring to this music is not the strong emotionality or the big sound or the excellent form. The thing that I want to bring is the ‘flower of the wound’, the perfection of 110 musicians gathering to have a ceremony for the wounds we endure, not to merely play a concert. To talk about our wounds and our experiences.”

Gramophone, Peter Quantrill
The finale opens with an exhalation from Currentzis, translated by the strings into a memorial of overlapping sighs and then punctuated by what sounds like the bass drum from the march. At this point the Berlin studio acoustic expands to cavernous dimensions to contain and then bury the symphony’s last rites.

Stereophile, Jason Victor Serinus
You can hear every musical gesture and, when the going gets especially intense, some of the conductor’s breathing. But that is not what you will focus on. Rather, attention is immediately drawn to Currentzis’ willingness to dwell in darkness. The surges of feeling in the first movement are breathtaking, the big romantic theme so deeply felt.

The High Arts Review, T.A. Konsgaard
It will be difficult to return to other recordings after Currentzis’s performance. This is perhaps one of the very few, select recordings that remind us of the great drive of Mravinsky in this repertoire. Highly recommended and a possible new benchmark.

The New York Times, David Allen
There is more cultivated Tchaikovsky out there, to be sure, and more precise, too, but none more faithful to his devastating purpose. The climaxes of the first movement feature some of the scariest conducting I have ever heard, the dark night of a soul pushed over the brink.

Other records

Beethoven — Symphony No. 7

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Verdi — La Traviata — Fragments. Part one

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Beethoven — Symphony No. 5

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Mahler — Symphony No. 6

Sony Classical, 2018