Review: John Suchet’s Classic FM Book – ‘Tchaikovsky: The Man Revealed’

I was sent a review copy of John Suchet’s latest Tchaikovsky book – Tchaikovsky: The Man Revealed – a few weeks back, originally to coincide with the release of the book. Technically I should have written this before its release. But, what with one thing or another Suchet’s latest composer biog has taken a bit of time to get around to writing about.

I identified personally-held assumptions about the book when I retrieved it from the bubble-wrap envelope – largely because of the prominence of Classic FM’s branding. In that way, the product in my hand holds a mirror up to my own pre-conceptions about who the target audience is for the book, long before I’ve even started reading it.

I share that view because even though I’m an advocate of Classic FM (largely because of the shit that flies around whenever the snobs and the detractors start wading into the argument about all that’s wrong with classical music today), my assumption was that Suchet’s book wouldn’t tell me anything and that whatever it tried to would probably be a little patronising. 

Fact is, I was wrong.

First, because I realised that Suchet’s book was telling me loads of stuff I wasn’t aware of. It also reminded me how much I appreciate having my Musicologist’s Gland tickled from time to time even though I’m sure even John S would concur when I say that the book is the lightest of musicological studies.

It’s an entertaining read. Absorbing. It transports me to another world. It tells a story without clobbering me over the head with academic analysis. It offers a handy overview I didn’t realise I didn’t already have. It also provides a much-needed haven from the usual starting points I run to when digging out information about composers.

This will give the impression that I regard everything Suchet has written as the gospel truth. I don’t. It can’t be. Tchaikovsky histories is problematic by virtue of there endless problematic sources underpinning those histories. But it’s a pleasure to read and gets you into the world of Tchaikovsky, feels good under the fingers and – to the credit of master content-marketers Classic FM – makes me want to explore some of the other books in the series. 

‘Tchaikovsky: The Man Revealed’ by John Suchet is available on Amazon priced at £15.77 hardback, or £10.00 on Kindle. 

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