TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36. Symphony No.
5 in E minor, Op. 64. Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique."
Another issue from Valery Gergiev, currently the busiest conductor in the world. Here he conducts repertory long associated with him, the last three symphonies of Tchaikovsky all recorded on three days in January 2010 with the Mariinsky Orchestra at Salle Pleyel in Paris. Performances are not of exceptional interest, and it appears the orchestra is not at full strength. For whatever reason, Symphony No. 4 is filmed with a bluish light. Included is a brief monologue by Gergiev in which he talks about the Tchaikovsky symphonies; this adds little to the presentation. Audio is unexceptional. Also odd is inclusion of a photograph of the stage of the Mariinsky Theatre. Why?
Mariinsky forces are much more impressive in the issue of Balanchine's masterpiece Jewels. For more about this stunning ballet, check the Paris Opera DVD reviewed on this site (REVIEW). The Mariinsky production is identical to the Paris Opera performance—as are all performances of this ballet. The Balanchine Trust has the rights to masterpiece, and I cannot imagine why anyone would consider altering it, perfect work of art that it is. Jewels receives a terrific performance in every way, and the video and audio quality could not be bettered. There is a 7 minute "bonus" with a monologue by Gergiev in which he talks about the ballet and the Mariinsky Theatre.
In 1977 Gian Carlo Menotti met with Plácido Domingo who suggested Menotti write an opera for him on the life of Spanish artist Francisco Goya. Commissioned by the Washington National Opera, it had its premiere there in 1986. Domingo opted to sing Goya in his Vienna State Opera debut in 2004, seen on this DVD, which previously has been issued. Goya bored the operatic world, and for good reason. It is old-fashioned, with tunes—but none that are memorable. It is very unlikely it will appear on opera stages again, particularly when there is no Domingo to sing it. This Viennese performance does what can be done with this music, and admirers of Domingo might wish to have it to put next to the dozens of videos of more worthy operas. Picture and audio (not surround sound) are dated.
R.E.B. (December 2011)