The Philadelphia Orchestra is holding a Tchaikovsky celebration - but how can you tell? The Russian composer figures heavily into every orchestra season, downtown and at the Mann.
Still, it is always a good time to dust off forgotten items from the far corners of his catalogue, and the orchestra, in its three-week Tchaikovsky festival, responded by performing, well, none of them.
This was presumably conceived as a chance to sell some tickets in a repertoire the ensemble plays very well. Ormandy, Muti, and Sawallisch brought something special (and each a different something special) to the ballet scores, recordings of which only gather luster with time. But gaping stretches of unfilled seats in Verizon Hall Thursday night showed an offering mix that failed to move the masses. It's understandable. If Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings or Rococo Variations tumble unbidden from the radio at intervals best measured in days or even hours, why pay good money to hear them again?