- Romeo and Juliet, fantasy-overture for orchestra in B minor (3 versions)
- Symphony No. 6 in B minor ("Pathétique"), Op.74
Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony used to make challenging recorded couplings. Think of their 2001 disc of Sibelius' "Second" with Tubin's "Fifth," or their 2004 disc of Stravinsky's "Le sacre du printemps" with Nielsen's "Fifth," or their 2005 disc of Dvorák's "Ninth" with Martinu's "Second." While the quality of their performances was variable -- some were truly special, others simply workaday -- the joining of two disparate but complementary works together always made for challenging listening. That trend ended in 2007 when Järvi and the Cincinnati, following in the footsteps of countless of conductors and orchestras before them, coupled Tchaikovsky's extremely popular "Romeo and Juliet Overture" with his equally popular "Pathétique Symphony." The good thing is that their performances are superbly played and skillfully conducted. The Cincinnati Symphony is a first-class American provincial orchestra with suave strings, refined woodwinds, a brash brass section, and a seemingly effortless ensemble. Järvi is a consummate conductor whose cues are clear, beat is clean, and gestures are effective without being overdone. But while everything in the score goes off as planned and no opportunity to make a musical or an emotional point is missed, there's a odd lack of vitality to this performance. Together, the Cincinnati and Järvi have taken two all too familiar war horses around the track but they haven't asked it to do anything it hasn't done scores of times before. Compared with the blood and iron Mravinsky/Leningrad Philharmonic "Sixth," the doom and gloom Furtwängler/Berliner Philharmoniker "Sixth," the guts and glory Reiner/Chicago Symphony "Sixth," or the wild and wooly Mengelberg/Concertgebouw Orchestra "Sixth," Järvi has nothing new or interesting to say about the music. Though Telarc's digital recording produced by Robert Woods and engineered by Michael Bishop is wide, warm, and inviting, the performances here, like the coupling, are nothing special.