<< -- 3 -- Robert Anderson LIFE AND STRIFE
Fritz Reiner had a well-earned reputation as uncompromising martinet.
His may not be the ideal temperament for Tchaikovsky in all his moods, but
Reiner's no-nonsense approach avoids any hint of emotional excess. There is
undimmed spotlight on the virtuosity of the Chicago players, with brisk
tempos and a slight feeling that Reiner has conducted the work once too
often. Nothing is perfunctory but there is little affection. The Allegro
non troppo of the first movement starts splendidly
[listen -- track 1, 1:54-2:59]; if it tends
to whip up a factitious excitement later on, Tchaikovsky can take it.
The lopsided waltz has not quite the 'grazia' the composer demands. If it is
undoubtedly eloquent, it is less than subtle
[listen -- track 2, 1:41-2:33]. I was looking
forward to the March above all; but here again Reiner, while achieving
admirable clarity, is merciless in his quest for brilliance and panache
[listen -- track 3, 7:46-8:40]. The last
movement is therefore a relief and the orchestra, having sent its bassoon into
infinite depths of unrelieved gloom, manages a passage of heartfelt balm that is
for a moment anything but pathetic
[listen -- track 4, 2:24-3:30].