Symphonies Nos 2 & 3
London Phliharmonic Orchestra/ Vladimir Jurowski
LPO-0109 77:03 mins
Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic give a delectable account of Tchaikovsky’s usually less favoured Third Symphony. Its five movements can sound discursive, and its foursquare finale (its mazurka rhythm prompting the Third’s nickname, ‘Polish’) rather dull. ★ere the funeral march-like introduction may appear to be given a rather swift and too lightweight account; in fact, this makes clearer the way a motif in the opening gradually transforms into the main Allegro theme. Even the oboe’s wistful, less obviously symphonic melody that follows is an effective foil to what has gone before. Jurowski’s conducting remains purposeful throughout: whether the graceful second and fourth movements, or the expressive Andante elegiac third movement, the music is given its due without milking any of its emotion. And the finale is never overbearing, thanks to the LPO’S sensitive shaping of its mazurka rhythm.
Not so successful is the less tricky Second Symphony. The brisk first movement is well characterised, but the second movement’s jaunty march sets off just too smartly, losing its carefree quality and not allowing the yearning secondary string theme to really breathe.
The following scherzo, though not particularly slow, sounds lumbering in comparison, which is surely not at all Tchaikovsky’s intention. After this, the finale goes very well, Jurowski even relenting for the final appearance of the secondary lilting string theme and easing the tempo. The Festival
★all sound, though dry-ish, is detailed and characterful enough for one to appreciate Tchaikovsky’s wonderful orchestration in both works. Daniel Jaffé