For turning out reliable recordings of the standard repertoire, it's hard to beat Neeme Järvi and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra because their releases on BIS are always highly enjoyable, and they are dependable for accurate renditions that are genuinely exciting. The six-CD set of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's symphonies Nos. 1-6, the Serenade for strings, Romeo and Juliet, Capriccio Italien, Francesca da Rimini, and other less familiar orchestral works, is a bargain that shouldn't be missed, for the beginning classical fan has everything necessary to begin appreciating the Russian master, while connoisseurs will find unexpected surprises in the obscure selections.
Recordings of all the Beethoven symphonies with their chief conductor are always a milestone in the artistic work of the Berliner Philharmoniker. So it was with Herbert von Karajan and Claudio Abbado, and expectations are correspondingly high for this cycle conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Where does the special status of these symphonies come from? Simon Rattle has an explanation: “One of the things Beethoven does is to give you a mirror into yourself – where you are now as a musician.” In fact, this music contains such a wealth of extreme emotions and brilliant compositional ideas that reveal the qualities of the orchestra and its conductor as if under a magnifying glass.
Let's say your tastes usually run to the Austro-Germanic, but you already have all of Beethoven's and Brahms' symphonies, most of Bruckner's and Mahler's symphonies, and many of Mozart's and Haydn's symphonies, so now you're thinking about trying out Tchaikovsky's symphonies. The question is: how many should you get? Should you get just the famous last three symphonies? Should you get all six numbered symphonies? Should you get all six symphonies plus the Manfred Symphony. Or should you get all symphonies six plus Manfred plus the orchestral suites? The answer, of course, depends on how much of Tchaikovsky's richly melodic, fabulously colorful, and extravagantly emotional orchestral music you're up for.