Under the baton of the talented Finnish conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra performs Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No.6 in B minor "Pathétique", Op.74. Recorded at Gothenburg Concert Hall, on October 11, 2018.
Tchaikovsky composed the Symphony No.6 in B minor between February and August 1893, and conducted the first performance on October 28 of that year in St Petersburg. Already in 1890 Tchaikovsky had written to his patroness of 13 years, Nadezhda von Meck, about a possible "Program Symphony". By 1893 he was ready to follow through on the idea, dedicated to his nephew Vladimir Davidov, the "Bobyk" (or "Bob") of many diary-entries and letters during the 1880s. After a successful premiere, however, he was not satisfied with Program Symphony (No.6) on the title page. Several days later Modest suggested "patetichesky", which in Russian means "(1) enthusiastic, passionate, (2) emotional, and (3) bombastic" (rather than "pathetic" or "arousing pity," as in English). Pyotr Ilyich was delighted by the suggestion: "Excellent, Modya, bravo, patetichesky!". He wrote this onto the score, and sent it the same day to his publisher, Jurgenson. Two days later, however, he had qualms and asked Jurgenson to suppress subtitles – to issue the work simply as Symphony No.6, dedicated to Bobyk. One week later, he was dead. As for Jurgenson, he could not resist the opportunity in 1893 to publish No.6, in elegant Lingua Franca, as Symphonie pathétique. The sobriquet has stuck ever since.
During the work's incubation Tchaikovsky was in rare good spirits, pleased with his boldness and fluency, especially in the trailblazing finale, a drawn-out Adagio of funereal character. Where others still wrote conventional slow movements, he hit on the idea of "a limping waltz" in 5/4 time. And he made the scherzo a march that builds to such a pitch of excitement that audiences ever since, everywhere, applaud at the end.
A lugubrious Adagio prologue begins with a bassoon solo in E minor that makes its way upward through the murk of divisi string basses, followed by a nervous little motif that blossoms into the main theme of an Allegro ma non troppo sonata-structure in B minor. The memorably sighing, mauve-hued melody that dominates this movement is actually its secondary subject. A crashing orchestral tutti sets up the passionately agitated development section, followed by a condensed reprise and a brief, calmed coda.
Tchaikovsky's marking for this D major "waltz" movement is Allegro con grazia – a song and trio with extended coda whose mood may be wistful, even melancholic midway, but whose spirit is balletic, to the extent of echoing Nutcracker's "Waltz of the Flowers", composed a year earlier.
The March-Scherzo, Allegro molto vivace in common time, has an elfin character at the start. It is a sonatina (exposition and reprise without development) that quick-steps to an explosive climax but always returns to tonic G major.
Another sonatina (symphonic developments were Tchaikovsky's bête noire) is anchored in B minor, although the tragic second theme enters in D major. The overall mood is inconsolably grieving, but not "pathetic". Ultimately, the music returns to those murky depths in which the symphony was born some 40 minutes earlier – without, however, benediction or hope.
Source: Roger Dettmer (allmusic.com)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
♪ Symphony No.6 in B minor "Pathétique", Op.74 (1893)
i. Adagio – Allegro non troppo
ii. Allegro con grazia
iii. Allegro molto vivace
iv. Finale. Adagio lamentoso
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Santtu-Matias Rouvali
Gothenburg Concert Hall, October 11, 2018
Hailed by The Guardian as "the latest sit-up-and-listen talent to emerge from the great Finnish conducting tradition", the 2018-2019 season will see Santtu-Matias Rouvali (b. 1985) continuing his positions as Chief Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony and Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra, alongside his longstanding Chief Conductor-ship with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra close to his home in Finland.
Rouvali has regular relationships with several orchestras across Europe, including the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Bamberger Symphoniker and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. As well as making his debut with the Münchner Philharmoniker this season, he also returns to North America for concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Following a very successful Nordic tour with Hélène Grimaud last season, the Gothenburg Symphony is back on the road in February 2019 for a tour hitting major centres in Germany and Austria with pianist Alice Sara Ott, and percussionist Martin Grubinger who premieres a new percussion concert by Daníel Bjarnason. Rouvali looks forward to other ambitious touring projects with his orchestras in the future, including appearances in North America and Japan.
In addition to the extensive tour, Rouvali's season in Gothenburg opens with Strauss' Alpine Symphony accompanied by Víkingur Ólafsson Mozart Piano Concerto No.24, and he looks forward to collaborations with Janine Jansen, Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Baiba Skride throughout the rest of the season.
As another cornerstone to his tenure in Gothenburg, he is adding his mark to the Orchestra's impressive recording legacy. In partnership with Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and violinist Baiba Skride, a recording featuring concertos from Bernstein, Korngold and Rozsa is released in autumn 2018. This continues his great collaboration with Baiba Skride following their hugely successful recording of Nielsen and Sibelius' violin concertos with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra in summer 2015.
Rouvali has been Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra since 2013. Highlights of the tenure so far include a Sibelius symphony cycle in autumn 2015, and the Orchestra's first tour to Japan in spring 2017 where they were accompanied by an exhibition of original Moomin drawings by Tove Jansson to mark the opening of the new museum at the Tampere Hall. He opens the 2018-2019 season with a Beethoven programme with pianist Javier Perianes.
Alongside an extremely busy symphonic conducting career, as Chief Conductor in Tampere he has conducted Verdi's La forza del destino and most recently world premiere of Olli Kortekangas's My Brother's Keeper (Veljeni vartija) with Tampere Opera in spring 2018.
Santtu-Matias Rouvali – All the posts
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra – All the posts
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6 in B minor "Pathétique" – San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas (Download 44.1kHz/16bit)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6 in B minor "Pathétique" – hr-Sinfonieorchester, Lionel Bringuier
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6 in B minor "Pathétique" – MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis (Download 96kHz/24bit & 44.1kHz/16bit)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6 in B minor, "Pathétique" – Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin (HD 1080p)