- A Midsummer Night's Dream, overture, Op. 21
- Symphony No. 6 in B minor ("Pathétique"), Op. 74
If any performance of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Pathétique," could be said to show restraint, intelligence, and good taste, then Charles Mackerras' 2009 live recording with the Philharmonia Orchestra should qualify because of its clarity of details, formal coherence, and lack of histrionics. There is no trace of murkiness or heaviness in the orchestra, and its alert rhythms, lean textures, transparent parts, and forward pacing keep up the work's interest and momentum, which are absolutely crucial to make the four movements cohere into a true symphony. Tchaikovsky may have been a passionate Romantic and ultimately a tragic figure, but he was enough of a Classicist in his training and thinking to know that a symphony needs a trajectory to hold it together, not just emotional exhibitionism, and Mackerras provides enough energy and impetus to make this performance gel. This rendition is really aimed at an audience that wants to hear a revitalized and vital interpretation of a much-mistreated warhorse, and this tightened "Pathétique" is a lot more exciting and compelling for the effort. For filler, Felix Mendelssohn's "Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream" is provided, which brings sparkling lightness and joy to contrast with the main selection's darkness. Signum's audio is clear and clean, and makes the Philharmonia sound gorgeously full in sonority and crisp in details.