TCHAIKOVSKY: MANFRED SYMPHONY (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/ Vasily Petrenko) (Naxos: 8.570568)
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Written between the fourth and fifth symphonies, Tchaikovsky's programmatic Manfred 'Symphony', inspired by Byron's dramatic poem of the same name, contains some of the composer's most thrillingly orchestrated music and best tunes. For Tchaikovsky, as for Byron, Manfred represented the figure of the outsider, an outcast from society. The first movement depicts Manfred at midnight in a Gothic gallery in his Alpine castle, seeking self-oblivion and haunted by memories of lost love. The second movement evokes the spirit of the Witch of the Alps, appearing in a rainbow through the spray of a waterfall, while in the third movement a chamois hunter offers Manfred what little comfort he can. In the final movement, set in a subterranean hall of Evil, in the form of a globe of fire, Manfred welcomes his coming death as the end of his suffering.
\[Vasily Petrenko] seems to have everything going for him: dynamism, taste, confident command and clarity of communication.... What an exciting conductor he is to watch, and, even more so, to hear in action."(The Daily Telegraph)