- Symphony No. 6 in B minor ("Pathétique"), Op. 74
Dmitri Kitayenko and the Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra previously recorded super audio versions of the complete symphonies of Dmitry Shostakovich for Oehms Classics, and here they present a desirable volume in their Tchaikovsky cycle. The "Symphonie No. 6 in B minor, Pathétique," is the second in the series, following the 2010 SACD of the "Manfred Symphony," so it appears that the order of release does not correspond to the works' sequence of composition. In any case, this is one of the three most popular symphonies Tchaikovsky wrote, and it's not surprising it would appear early, because it is most likely to get everyone's attention. In terms of the performance, it deserves notice because of the richness of the orchestral palette and the breadth and depth of the audio dimensions. Kitayenko interprets the work fairly conventionally, so there are no surprises in his tempos or choices of expressions, and the symphonic form hangs together quite well, thanks to his reasonable pacing. But the Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra really rises to the occasion and puts out a "Pathétique" that is astonishing in its vividness. This is not apparent at first, for the subdued Adagio introduction seems to hold everybody in check. But when the musicians reach the Allegro non troppo, the full impact of their sound is felt, especially in the penetrating sonorities of the brass and percussion. This movement is just a prelude to the variety of colors and attacks that follow in the lilting Allegro con grazia, the riveting Allegro molto vivace, and the desolate Finale. There is abundant passion in the performance, and overwhelming heartbreak in the closing measures, but the listener will remember this recording most of all for the striking sound quality, not only in Tchaikovsky's brilliant scoring but also through Kitayenko's balanced direction and the orchestra's powerful execution.