Following what has become a desirable Fourth Symphony,, Naxos, now owners of the Vox label, move on to Maurice Abravanel’s Tchaikovsky Five (mid-1970s, captured by Elite Recordings – Marc Aubort & Joanna Nickrenz – as part of the conductor’s extensive Tchaikovsky survey). Abravanel’s interpretations are said to be “fresh and direct”. This is so, with no sense of routine in these particular performances, with plenty of personality in the well-prepared playing, and sounding good from the remastered Audiophile perspective (Mike Clements & Andrew Walton). Abravanel’s thought-through/wholesome conducting pays many dividends, with no lack of passion and a keen ear for detail, and, as before, there is a moreish quality – so why, I wonder, does he indulge a sudden acceleration at 13:26 in the first movement, which comes across as reckless; although it’s also welcome to avoid him being thought too respectful of the score. The slow movement, with an expressive and impressive horn solo, is of unstable passions, while the third is shaped gracefully. With the Finale we hit a slight snag, an edit at 3:13, which has no doubt been tidied as much as technology allows, if momentarily disrupting the tense atmosphere established in the Andante and the breaking free that the Allegro brings, very exciting in Utah and cumulatively thrilling and emphatic. As for the Festival Overture: The Year 1812 (sometimes designated ‘Solemn’), this is really well done, a story of battle, homesickness and victory being told with sensitivity, panache, shapeliness and vividness, with just the right amounts of cannons and bells in the final parade, brought off with jubilation and swagger, orchestra and effects in harmony. Vox Audiophile Edition VOX-NX-3023CD. Coming soon are the rest of the Symphonies, including Manfred.