Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bernstein conducts Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique

   Leonard Bernstein, composer, pianist, conductor and teacher was one of brightest persons in second half of 20th century. He was famous even among people who didn’t ever visit any philharmonic hall. As an orchestra conductor Leonard Bernstein was expert of extended symphonic forms. In many visionary interpretations he was able to balance individual emotionalism and stable construction. And under his direction orchestras always played on the top of their possibilities. The real greatness of his artistry we can appreciate while listening records with New York Philharmonic, orchestra which he was musical director for 11 seasons (1958-1969).
   Leonard Bernstein was conducting New York Philharmonic much longer before and after his term of office. Since unrehearsed and spectacularly successful debut in 1943 he was working with this orchestra regularly until last years of his creative life. And he left dozens of outstanding recordings made with New York Philharmonic. Especially as musical director of the orchestra he recorded every major work from Philharmonic repertoire. The material he worked on during rehearsals immediately after public presentation was recorded in CBS studios. And CBS was his primary label these years, later in seventies and eighties he recorded mainly for Deutsche Grammophon with various orchestras and wide range of repertoire.

Leonard Bernstein - Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique (1987)

   Composing Symphony no. 6 in B Minor op. 74, Peter Tchaikovsky has suffered from serious depression. There are even presumptions about last symphony he finished was illustration of composer’s suicide plans but with lack of evidence or indications such ideas must remain in the realm of speculation. Such conjectures have emerged as a response to the extremely emotional nature of the work. Four part construction with widely expanded first and last parts and with as much characteristic fragments as Adagio lamentoso in final movement it was ideal fodder for imagination.
   This meaningful symphony was called „Патетическая” after opinion by his brother Modest. Russian title means „passionate” and traditionally is accepted worldwide in French translation as „Pathétique”. Composer considered to call it „Programme Symphony” but finally he rejected the idea because he wanted to keep his outward ideas in secret and he didn’t want to encourage conjectures on this field. Qualities of the work makes us think composer’s decision should be respected.

Leonard Bernstein - Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique (1987)

   Leonard Bernstein recorded Symphony no. 6 in B Minor „Pathétique” with New York Philharmonic Orchestra in August 1986. It was live recording of the concert performance in Avery Fisher Hall. This rendition can be seen as a best probe of conductor’s possibilities in eighties. In this recording he achieved the effect of sublimity and nobility, characterizing only these musical works which are devoted to the final decisions on moral and philosophical questions. The first movement is opening with pianissimo possibile giving artists best start posision to create differentiated and complex part. Middle parts are just complete for filling the emotional and imaginary span of the work. It’s worth to pay attention to the 3rd movement Allegro molto vivace, powerful but still subtle. And the answer for the questions of the beginning is given by finale part of the symphony. Experienced conductor is aware of the rules, genius can follow universal path focusing emotions of every receiver. And Leonard Bernstein gives listener a chance to see it from highly captivating perspective. Thus the Bernstein's interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique reveals its inner beauty so well.

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