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The Life and Works of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
The Life and Works of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #4


      
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CD Reviews

A fascinating look at a tortured genius
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 08/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Naxos continues to do a wonderful job with its "Life and Works" series. Quite some time ago, we had a Life/Works of Mozart, one of Chopin and then two more, Liszt and Beethoven. he latter are even better packaged than are the earlier sets, with a thick booklet that offers us essays on the historical background, the position of the composer in his time, a look at the major works, a listening plan, recommended readings, personalities, a calendar of the artist's life, a glossary, and a discography. This booklet is worth the price of the set alone. Now we have two more entries in this amazing series, again written and narrated by Jeremy Siepmann: "Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky" (8.558036-39) with a playing time of 4 hrs. 5 min. and "Johann Sebastian Bach" (8.558051-54) with a playing time of 4 hrs. 34 minutes. (Please see my comments on the Bach set on its webpage.) Was there ever a sadder composer than Tchaikovsky? Siepmann practically introduces us to the child in his cradle and covers his 53 or so years of torment over his music, his sexuality, his impossibly hopeless marriage his strange relationship with Mme von Meck, and above all his music.
To make the recording more vivid, the producers have assigned professional actors the roles of the composer himself (Malcolm Sinclair), the women in his life (Karen Archer and Teresa Gallagher) and the men (Stephen Thorne and David Timson). There are many music examples (drawn, of course, from Naxos recordings), some of them considerably longer than necessary. For example, the "Sugar Plum Fairy" is heard at length to represent all of the "Nutcracker" score when several shorter samplings would have served the purpose better. But this has been true for the entire series, and perhaps the producers will rethink this aspect."