I'm on Tchaikovsky kick recently so I'm starting a thread to provoke some discussion.
How do you rank his symphonies, what do you think about them in general, what recordings are your favourites?
I think that he suffers a lot from "nice" image of his music based on easy-listening ballet suites. But his after-3rd symphonies are much more modern and challenging that one would expect. They reach almost Mahler-like brutality of expression, yet always remain beautiful.
My ranking would look something like that:
1. 6th - a great, lenghty masterpiece of late romanticism with last movement being one of most stunning pieces of music of all times
2. 5th - just a little bit inferior to the 6th mainly because of it's final movement which some would call cheap and bombastic. The rest is incredible and everyone should hear the opening of slow movement with solo horn.
3. 3rd - rather underrated piece with unusual structure, first movement has a lot of smart counterpoint, the two shorter movements reveal great sense of colouristics, especially the scherzo with magical trombone part. Then the stunning finale with energetic polonaise and unforgetable chorale.
4. 4th - some weird ideas in this symphony, in first and last movements and of course in the scherzo with this pizzicato messing-around. The slow movement has something special about it and the ending, well, it's one of wildest codas in symphonic genre. CLASH CLASH BUM TRA TA TA TA DAM.
5. 1st and 2nd. Simply very good symphonies with no great revelations.
So far my number one is:
Except for the 6th which is played way too fast. In this one I prefer Bernstein/NY.
The Karajan box also includes other works in first rate interpretation, especially the concertos and string serenade.
And now the stuff: