Further to https://www.colinscolumn.com/vox-audiophile-edition-releases-maurice-abravanel-conducting-tchaikovskys-fourth-symphony-romeo-and-juliet-with-utah-symphony-orchestra/ and https://www.colinscolumn.com/vox-audiophile-edition-releases-maurice-abravanel-conducting-tchaikovskys-fifth-symphony-1812-overture-with-utah-symphony-orchestra/, the rest of Maurice Abravanel’s Tchaikovsky Symphonies are now available. Filling the gap in the composer’s catalogue between numbers Four & Five is the great Manfred (Symphony in B-minor after Byron), which Abravanel and his Utah forces bring off with a vivid narrative, and none of the cuts this work is prone to, and if the Utah SO is (was) regarded as a second-tier ensemble then the virtuoso response to the tricky rhythms of the Scherzo should disabuse such an opinion, especially given Abravanel’s fleet tempo. (Not sure if there’s an organ present in the final fortissimo bars.)
Also included – a few oddities aside, such as the (deliberately) hesitant start to the first-movement Allegro – is a mightily impressive ‘Pathétique’ Symphony, notably powerful and passionate, the Utah musicians in terrific form, not least in a scalding account of the third-movement march, during which Abravanel makes some well-timed/persuasive tempo modifications leaning to the majestic and triumphant, with a fiery coda, which is contradicted by the slow Finale and its fade to nothingness.
As for the first three Symphonies – ‘Winter Daydreams’, ‘Little Russian’, ‘Polish’ – all are brought off with affection and style, issuing an invitation to listen again with keen anticipation in what was always-good 1970s’ Elite sound (Marc Aubort & Joanna Nickrenz) expertly remastered by Mike Clements and Andrew Walton, fully worthy of the Audiophile designation.
The other performances here – Hamlet, Francesca da Rimini, Marche Slave – are very fine complements to whichever Symphony they are coupled to.
I believe Abravanel also recorded Swan Lake. Maybe that will follow.