Thursday, February 3, 2011

#34 The Smell of Power

This Andante is a great opening of the symphony. Nothing but strings (except for the first violins) and clarinets conjure a depressive melody full of pauses and musings. It's starting up and backing out, bassoons are joining in but we need to wait to allegro–an obscure curly waltz in 6/8–to get the full orchestra sound.

And what a sound it is! Mravinsky delivers a shivering and sensual performance. I would not say it's about precise playing–there's something more. You know what the orchestra is capable of (well, not really until the last movement) and you know Mravinsky will not let it go yet. It's his smell.

Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Work: Symphony No 5, I. Andante–Alegro con anima
Recording: Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Evgeny Mravinsky

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