Orchestral music by Tchaikovsky -
'... sumptuous and highly disciplined playing ...'
Romeo and Juliet was kick-started by Balakirev at a time when Tchaikovsky,
not yet thirty, felt burnt out. The older man produced a programme in which main
Shakespearian figures were positioned in a scheme flexible enough to allow music
its head. Friar Lawrence, as responsible for the catastrophe, should begin;
the Montagues and Capulets must fiercely battle as background to the ill-starred
love; and the teenage pair (Tchaikovsky's favourite young man age was fifteen)
would take centre stage with their passion. Balakirev suggested a key sequence,
urged Tchaikovsky to put on galoshes, take a walking-stick, and pace the
boulevards in the conviction that inspiration would come; the result was a
masterpiece, with Romeo and Juliet in ravishing colloquy
[listen -- CD-9921 track 5, 6:24-7:33].
The Russian Federal Orchestra is by definition post-Soviet. It was founded
in 1993, a comparative upstart, yet able to call on players drilled in the
best Russian tradition. The outcome is a freshness and vigour in performance
under the Georgian conductor Vakhtang Jordania that is always stimulating
but sometimes unpolished. Ensemble may not always be precise, balance may be
less judicious than enthusiastic. It is very different from the sumptuous and highly
disciplined playing the London Philharmonic can produce, whether in 1979 under
Norman Del Mar or a dozen years later under Sian Edwards.
Copyright © 6 February 2005
Robert Anderson, London UK