If you’re on a limited budget but own a computer there is a whole world of classical music waiting for you for  free, an example of this is the site www.rediscovery.us which offers a fine catalog of material. An example of this is arguably one of the finest examples of symphony writing, that being Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in b minor, the last work he wrote. Tchaikovsky (1840-1893). There are many opinions of what really happened in regards to his suicide a very short time after the completion of this symphony, something I won’t discuss in this review but I will say that Tchaikovsky was a very troubled man and the writing of this work certainly indicates it. For those who wish to pursue this topic further I can recommend the book Tchaikovsky: The Man and His Music/David Brown.

Released on the RCA budget label Camden (CAS 503) Odd Gruner-Hegge and the Oslo Philharmonic give a rather reserved reading which goes along with the engineering of this recording as well. The high end is somewhat restrained, woofers are practically given a holiday in your speaker system, and the conducting indicates this. Some of this is due to the fact that this is a 320KBPS but others I’ve downloaded have a fuller dynamic range. Having said this it is a tremendous bargain which will give you an idea about the work in general.

The first movement, an adagio begins somewhat sadly with the bassoon offering the melody followed by the oboes. It quickly changes to a dramatic bright and bold version of the same melody coming to a crescendo before we’re introduced to the theme that was made popular called “Tonight We Love” becoming a theme song for Tony Martin. The rest of the seventeen minute movement is devoted to the development of the theme.

The second movement is a glowing feel good allegro played at a slower pace with a theme nicely developed and harmonized by Tchaikovsky. This is a movement typical of his style and one that lovers of his music will be accustomed to.

The third movement, another allegro, adds a third memorable theme to the work with a feel of the staccato from the strings with the brass offering harmony to the melody. It builds to a crescendo with the entire orchestra participating. If one was not familiar with the work you’d definitely get the feeling that this was the conclusion of the work!

The final movement which is the one many feel is a funeral march is in fact in my opinion a well thought out adagio which builds with another sad melody but ends in silence.

Tchaikovsky has shown how he has been able to master the symphonic form and his six symphonies rank among the finest to have come out of the late 19th century.

Track Listing:

  1. adagio-allegro non troppo (17:37)
  2. Allegro con grazia (8:13)
  3. allegro molto vivace (9:09)
  4. adagio lamentoso (9:51)

NOTE: This work also includes the Schubert Symphony No. 8 in b minor “Unfinished.” Both works have the distinction of being unique with special circumstances for each. I prefer to discuss the Schubert work in a separate review.