Paavo Järvi and the Tonhalle Orchestra continue their Tchaikovsky cycle for Alpha (hopefully to include Manfred) with Symphonies 2 & 4. The former (‘Little Russian’) is superbly brought off – potent from the off (fine horn solo), incisive, expressive and grand, dynamic and detailed; adorable music whether in the composer’s use of Ukrainian folk-tunes or through his own outgoing originality. I wonder if Järvi has plans to also record the original version of this score; as things stand he and his players have given us a relished reading – on the move (try the ebullient rhythmic precision of the Scherzo and the fleet Finale – dramatically introduced (stupendous timpani) – and with the sometimes-cut piccolo episode left in) albeit with time to colour, confide and contrast. I suspect the ultimate chord is still resonating within the walls of Tonhalle Maag.

In the first movement of the great Fourth Symphony (somewhat marred by an unfortunate technical ‘click’ just as the dire brassy summons is issued) it could be argued that fateful emotions, let alone paranoia, are a tad underplayed; that said, the whole is unusually cohesive and, whether striding purposefully (if never recklessly) or being balletic, peaks are reached organically aided by heroic brass-playing and soaring passionate strings (violins antiphonal with basses placed to the left – the classical/classic design), this opener reaching its zenith in the coda: we’ve been going there all the time after all (trust me, masterly map-reader Paavo seems to be saying). The three movements that follow enjoy an eloquent oboe solo and warm strings (the music’s dark side not far away, mind), precise/witty pizzicatos, and a non-thrashed Finale in which lyrical cossetting and an unvarnished return of the fate motif are rightly uneasy bedfellows. Once again, PJ knows where the music is going – and that’s to an exhilarating coda (Cossacks partying), tears and fears vanquished.

Recorded with an impressive mix of spaciousness and impact – the best seat in the house and up there with the driver – this second ‘Tchaik’ release from Zurich is on Alpha 735.

RELEASED TODAY, November 13: Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich & Paavo Järvi record Tchaikovsky for Alpha.

Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich – Paavo Järvi conducts Tchaikovsky’s Winter Daydreams Symphony [live Idagio webcast]

Paavo Järvi records Olivier Messiaen in Zurich & Erkki-Sven Tüür in Pärnu & Tallinn [Alpha Classics]