VPO/Gatti - 20 May

An O1 broadcast of Daniele Gatti conduct the VPO in Stravinsky's Apollon Musagete and Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony presented a concert of two halves, as they say in footballing circles.

The Apollon Musagete ballet is one of the most beautiful and moving amongst Stravinsky's creation in my humble opinion. Gatti drew some exquisite playing from the VPO strings and there are moments of jaw-dropping exquisite calm in his interpretation.

Its a work which allows broad differences in approach - represented in my collection by BPO/Karajan (not as bad as many think - full of emotion and drama) and Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste (clean, beautiful string sound and urgent momentum). Gatti struck me as taking a middle way using the full weight of the VPO strings to please the ear and their agility to deliver the real balletic feel.

This conductor's Tchaikovsky has been lauded and this was my first encounter - coloured I should confess by an uneasy relationship with this composer's dramatic devices. Gatti made the hysterical side of Tchaikovsky's art (is that the right word? art I mean, not hysterical) even more nerve wracking. I suppose its right to feel hopeless about a symphony subtitled "Pathetique" but I don't think Tchaikovsky meant it in the sense I felt it. Tchaikovsky the melodramatist, the hopelessly emotional symphonist, the manic colourist and ultimately the grating, over-indulgent artist came into my mind. Gatti conspired in that for me when others have made it bearable. If you like your nerves shredded - this is a reading for you.


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