BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral Reviews -

Swan Lake

State Aca­demic Sym­phony Orches­tra of Rus­sia ‘Evgeny Svet­lanov’/ Vladimir Jurowski

Pen­ta­tone PTC 5186 640 (hy­brid CD/ SACD) 79:52 mins

It wasn’t un­til the 1970s (on disc, at least) that there was a resur­gence of in­ter­est in the orig­i­nal ver­sion of Swan Lake, as op­posed to the hugely pop­u­lar yet ut­terly in­au­then­tic 1895 edi­tion pre­pared two years after Tchaikovsky’s death by Ric­cardo Drigo. An­dré Previn’s op­u­lent LSO ac­count (Emi/warner, 1976) has won ad­mir­ers, but it was Richard Bonynge and the Na­tional Phil­har­monic (Decca, 1975) who came clos­est to cap­tur­ing the in­ten­sity of a live per­for­mance, as well as find­ing a con­vinc­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tive path be­tween the mu­sic’s choreographic spec­ta­cle and near-sym­phonic grav­i­tas.

Like Bonynge, Vladimir Jurowski in­cludes the Act III Rus­sian Dance Tchaikovsky wrote for Pe­la­gia Karpakova, and in ad­di­tion the won­der­ful Pas de deux writ­ten (ap­par­ently un­der duress) for Anna Sobeshchan­skaya. Jurowski leans more towards the con­cert hall than the bal­let the­atre, rel­ish­ing the legato-cantabile of Tchaikovsky’s melodic writ­ing, where Bonynge tends to point the rhythms and keep the mu­sic on its col­lec­tive toes. Bonynge’s trum­pet fan­fares pos­sess a brac­ing, open-air, fes­tive qual­ity, whereas Jurowski is more in­clined to sym­phonic sweep rather than rel­ish­ing the mo­ment. That said, Jurowski lacks noth­ing in terms of pas­sion­ate com­mit­ment – the im­pact of his record­ing, es­pe­cially when the SACD sur­round track is ac­ti­vated, is all-en­gulf­ing – and con­jures up a com­pelling emo­tional nar­ra­tive. Yet it is Bonynge who, in ar­guably the finest of his many bal­let record­ings, makes even the most re­sis­tant of arm­chair lis­ten­ers feel drawn to get up and dance to this daz­zlingly in­spired mas­ter­piece. Ju­lian Hay­lock PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★★

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