Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony release a new recording of two of Tchaikovsky’s most passionate and beautiful works this coming week – his Symphony No 5 and Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy-Overture.
They might well be amongst the most frequently recorded works of the great Russian composer, but these performances are simply gorgeous – and as sumptuous in their interpretation as the elegant deep red design which graces the cover.
Recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall in September last year, at the beginning of MTT’s 20th season as Music Director of the Symphony, this release has been timed to coincide with the 175th anniversary of the birth of Tchaikovsky – on May 7, 1840, in the industrial town of Votkinsk, in Western Russia.
Tilson Thomas says that Tchaikovsky has always been important to him. “My work as a student and young musician with Piatigorsky, Heifetz and Rubinstein imparted to me a sense of elegance about his music,” he says. “It is this quality that has shaped this performance.”
Elegant it most certainly is, and it also bears the hallmark of MTT’s exquisite timing. The pace with which he interprets these works is perfect, allowing each phrase to be savored, and every ounce of passion to be drawn from the music. It’s brisk and lively when required, but there’s never a hint of a hurry, of rushing through so much as a note – just a perfectly balanced flow of pure emotion and sheer beauty.
European audiences will have an opportunity to experience live performances of the Tchaikovsky Symphony No 5 during the European Festivals Tour which Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony will be undertaking from late August through mid September this year. The work will be performed at the Edinburgh International Festival on August 28, at the Rheingau Festival in Wiesbaden on September 3, and in Luxembourg on September 12. Prior to the start of the tour, the symphony will also be performed at a Bon Voyage concert at Davies Symphony Hall on August 21.
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5 and his Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy-Overture will be released on May 5 on the San Francisco Symphony’s in-house Grammy Award-winning label, SFS Media, where all the technical details and information on formats can be found.
Here you’ll also find information on all other recordings by the Symphony, including works by other Russian composers of whom Michael Tilson Thomas is a great advocate – a suite from Prokofiev’s music for the ballet Romeo and Juliet – Grammy winner for Best Orchestral Performance – and Stravinsky’s music for The Rite of Spring, The Firebird and Perséphone – an album which won three Grammy Awards.
Also featured on this website are the two episodes of Keeping Score – MTT and the San Francisco Symphony’s nationally broadcast PBS television series – which were dedicated to the making of a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4 and an exploration of Shostakovich’s Symphony No 5.
Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s recording of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5 and Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy-Overture are available on iTunes at iTunes.com/SFSymphony and the SF Symphony’s e-store at sfsymphony.org/Tchaik, and can be pre-ordered now.