BBC Symphony Orchestra/Rozhdestvensky
Tchaikovsky Symphony No 5
I'm a devotee of ICA Classics (International Classical Artists Ltd) which does a sterling job unearthing oldish or forgotten recordings, sprucing them up and releasing them anew, often for the first time on CD. Indeed, I have promised myself to do a Saturday Herald column on the company and its range. It's unusual to be disappointed, and this is entirely a matter of taste, but its latest batch features a live recording of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, performed at the Flanders Festival in 1978 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Gennadi Rozhdestvensky conducting. Now I know some people can't see past Rozhdestvensky, but I find this a peculiarly flat vision of the symphony, well played but lacking in voltage and not seeming to notice the febrile qualities of the music. Tempos often have a stoical feel, and whatever else Tchaikovsky's music might be, stoical it ain't. The whole thing lacks volcanic force and is light years short of the energy and electricity that Mravinsky found in the same piece.