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Building a Library: Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 6, Op 74 (Pathetique)

With Andrew McGregor. Building a Library: Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 6 (Pathetique); Simon Rattle's cycle of Beethoven symphonies with the Berlin Philharmonic; Disc of the Week.

with Andrew McGregor

Building a Library: Marina Frolova-Walker recommends a recording of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, Op. 74, 'Pathétique' from among available versions.

'It was not exactly a failure' Tchaikovsky reported to his publisher after the 1893 premiere of his final completed symphony. But having 'shed many tears' during its composition reflecting on the Pathétique's never-to-be-revealed programme 'saturated with subjective feeling', the neurotic, hypersensitive composer was surprisingly unconcerned with the public's lukewarm reaction. Tchaikovsky knew it was his best work - an opinion which was very soon vindicated (he was dead nine days after he conducted the first performance), as his symphony fast became a concert hall staple and was even adopted as a symphonic model by fellow neurotic Gustav Mahler. And in both the last century and this one, it has become among the most recorded symphonies in the catalogue, prey to young Turks and grizzled maestros alike.

Stephen Johnson assesses Rattle's latest cycle of Beethoven symphonies recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic and sees if it trumps his previous set with the Vienna Philharmonic.

Disc of the Week: Andrew makes a personal choice from among the latest outstanding releases.

3 hours, 12 minutes

Music Played

  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op.67 (i. Allegro con brio)

    Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle.
    • 5.
  • Nicholas Ludford

    Kyrie (from the Lady Mass Cycle, iii. Tuesday)

    Performer: Magnus Williamson. Choir: Gonville and Caius Coll. Cambridge Choir. Conductor: Geoffrey Webber.
    • Delphian DCD34158.
    • Delphian.
    • 5.
  • Christoph Graupner

    Concerto In G major, GWV. 333 (i. Largo & ii. Allegro)

    Performer: Lisa Beznosiuk. Performer: Andreas Helm. Performer: Monica Huggett. Orchestra: Irish Baroque Orchestra.
    • Linn CKD 526.
    • Linn.
    • 1.
  • Per Norgard

    Symphony No. 5 (i. Moderato - piu allegro)

    Orchestra: Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: John Storgårds.
    • DaCapo 6.220646.
    • DaCapo.
    • 1.
  • Marc‐Antoine Charpentier

    Les Arts Florissants, Scene II (H.487)

    Singer: Agnès Mellon. Singer: Gregory Reinhart. Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants. Director: William Christie.
    • Harmonia Mundi HAF 8901083.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 4.
  • Michel Pignolet de Montéclair

    La Mort de Didon (Book I, Cantata XI)

    Singer: Agnès Mellon. Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants. Director: William Christie.
    • Harmonia Mundi HAF 8901280.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 1.
  • Jean‐Philippe Rameau

    Pygmalion (Scene IV)

    Singer: Sandrine Piau. Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants. Director: William Christie.
    • Harmonia Mundi HAF 8901381.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 4.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Missa Solemnis (Mass in D major, Op.123)

    Singer: Laura Aikin. Singer: Bernarda Fink. Singer: Johannes Chum. Singer: Ruben Drole. Choir: Arnold Schoenberg Chor. Ensemble: Concentus Musicus Wien. Conductor: Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
    • Sony 88985313592.
    • Sony.
    • 1.


Barry Meets Beethoven
BARRY, G: Beethoven; Oh Lord, how vain; The Coming of Winter; First Sorrow; Long Time; Schott & Sons, Mainz
Stephen Richardson (bass), Chamber Choir Ireland, Crash Ensemble, Paul Hillier (conductor)

Chorus vel Organa
LUDFORD: Lady Mass Cycle; Missa Lapidaverunt Stephanum
CORNYSH: Magnificat; SHEPPARD, J: Sancte Dei pretiose
Magnus Williamson (organ), Choir of Gonville, Caius College Cambridge, Geoffrey Webber (conductor)

Concerti Bizarri
FASCH, J F: Concerto in B minor for flute and oboe, FaWV L: h1; Concerto for two Oboes da caccia, two Violas, two Bassoons and Continuo in G major, FaWV L:G11
GRAUPNER: Bassoon Concerto in C major, GWV301; Concerto in G major for flauto d'amore, oboe d'amore, viola d'amore, strings & b.c., GWV 333
HEINICHEN: Concerto in G minor for oboe, Seibel 237
TELEMANN: Concerto TWV 53:D4 in D major for 2 violins, bassoon, strings & b.c.
VIVALDI: Concerto in G minor for Two Cellos, RV531
Irish Baroque Orchestra, Monica Huggett (director and violin)

Per Norgard: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5
NORGARD: Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, John Storgards (conductor)
DACAPO 6220646 (Hybrid SACD)

9.30am Building a Library

Marina Frolova-Walker compares recordings of Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony, and recommends a version.

Building a Library Recommendations

Top recommendation:

Berlioz, Franck, Debussy, Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Bartok 1970-1981
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor Op. 36; Symphony No. 5 in E minor Op. 64; Symphony No. 6 in B minor Op. 74 'Pathetique'
BARTOK: Concerto for Orchestra, BB 123, Sz.116
BERLIOZ: La Damnation de Faust Op. 24: Rakoczi March
BIZET: L'Arlesienne Suite No. 2
DEBUSSY: La Mer; Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune
DVORAK: Symphony No. 8 in G major Op. 88; Symphony No. 9 in E minor Op. 95 'From the New World'; Slavonic Dance No. 8 in G minor Op. 46 No. 8
FRANCK, C: Symphony in D minor
GOUNOD: Faust - Ballet Music
MASCAGNI: L'Amico Fritz: Intermezzo
PUCCINI: Suor Angelica - Intermezzo; Manon Lescaut - Intermezzo
RAVEL: Bolero; Alborada del gracioso (orchestral version); La Valse; Rapsodie Espagnole; Le tombeau de Couperin - Orchestral version
SMETANA: Ma Vlast: Vltava
Orchestre de Paris, Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan (conductor)
WARNER CLASSICS 2564633593 (7CD budget)

Other recordings:

Below is a shortlist of other recordings which Marina Frolova-Walker also liked, although we can’t guarantee the availability of these discs.

Leningrad PO / Mravinsky (Live, 1983)
Erato 2292-45756-2

Swedish Chamber Orchestra / Thomas Dausgaard


10.25am Reissues: Les Arts Florissants

CHARPENTIER, M-A: Les Arts Florissants (Idyle en musique) H.487
Les Arts Florissants, William Christie (conductor)
HARMONIA MUNDI HAF8901083 (CD mid-price)

Monteclair: Cantates a une et trois voix avec symphonie
MONTECLAIR: La mort de Didon; Il Dispetto in Amore; Le Triomphe de l'Amour; La Morte di Lucretia; Pyrame et Thsibe
Les Arts Florissants, William Christie (conductor)
HARMONIA MUNDI HAF8901280 (CD mid-price)

Rameau: Pygmalion & Nelee et Myrthis
RAMEAU: Pygmalion; Nelee et Myrthis
Les Arts Florissants, William Christie (conductor)
HARMONIA MUNDI HAF8901381 (CD mid-price)

10.45am Stephen Johnson on Berlin Philharmonic Beethoven Cycle

Stephen Johnson assesses Simon Rattle's latest cycle of Beethoven symphonies recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic and sees if it trumps his previous set with the Vienna Philharmonic.

BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)
Annette Dasch (soprano), Eva Vogel (mezzo), Christian Elsner (tenor), Dimitry Ivashchenko (bass), Berliner Philharmoniker, Rundfunkchor Berlin, Sir Simon Rattle (conductor)
BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER BPHR160091 (5 CDs + 2 Blu-ray Video + 1 Pure Audio Blu-ray)

11.45am Disc of the Week

BEETHOVEN: Missa Solemnis in D major Op. 123
Laura Aikin (soprano), Elisabeth Kulman (alto), Johannes Chum (tenor), Ruben Drole (bass), Concentus Musicus Wien, Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor)
SONY 88985313592 (CD)


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