Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
A beautiful, sensitive performance
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 03/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These relatively little known compositions are delightful. "Six Pieces" dates from 1873 and are "variations on a theme", most of them with a feeling of simplicity, though it ends with a rousing scherzo. "The Seasons" are 12 short pieces that were commissioned in 1876 by a magazine to appear separately as "monthly installments". "March" is lovely, and another favorite is "June", with its lilting melody.This music has a lot of charm, but it's Mikhail Pletnev's superb performance that makes this CD special, and one that I listen to more often than I normally would for this type of music. It's a recording that should be heard by anyone studying the piano, and is a wonderful addition to a Tchaikovsky collection, as these are rare tidbits from the master of Russian romanticism. The booklet insert has a brief history of the music in 3 languages, and the CD has a total running time is 66:00."
From the review in Gramophone
Record Collector | Mons, Belgium | 11/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A live 1985 Pletnev recording of The Seasons (without coupling) has been available on the Russian Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga label for some time. But, paradoxically, it's this new studio version that comes closer to the spirit of Pletnev's best concert performances. The old assertion that Tchaikovsky's piano writing is rarely as brilliant or fully idiomatic as his orchestral writing still holds, and yet Pletnev finds colours and depths throughout this 12-movement cycle that few others have found even intermittently. Schumann is revealed as a major influence, not only on the outward features of the style, but on the whole expressive mood and manner. The opening of ''May'' is straight from the contemplative Schumann--his Eusebius persona--while the mercurial staccato-legato exchanges near the start of ''January'' are intrusions from the lighter Florestan. I hope it won't be too long before he tackles Carnaval.
That alternation of civilized soulfulness and delicious, faintly wicked humour recurs again and again in this performance. Even the melancholy song of ''October'' has its tiny touches of Pletnevian naughtiness, but how beautifully the tune itself sings. And as a display of pianism the whole record is outstanding, all the more so because Pletnev's brilliance isn't purely egoistic. Even when he does something unmarked--like attaching the hunting fanfares of ''September'' to the final unison of ''August''--he's so persuasive that you could believe that this is somehow inherent, if not actually explicit, in the material. Those with the old Augener edition will notice a bar missing in ''January'' (the bar after 17). This isn't Pletnev re-writing Tchaikovsky: that bar--included by Victoria Postnikova in her Erato recording--appears in the manuscript but not the first edition; Pletnev, like most other performers, follows that first printed version. I feel there's a case for both readings--it's hardly a decisive issue.
Until now Postnikova would have been my first recommendation, and I still don't think anyone would be seriously disappointed by her interpretation. There's plenty of poetry, colour and panache, but I think Pletnev has the edge--a touch more brilliance here, more singing eloquence there, a slightly broader palette, and above all a unique ability to surprise without exaggerating, distorting or (with the exception of the ''August'' to ''September'' attacca mentioned above) departing from the letter of the score. And Pletnev's coupling, the six Morceaux, Op. 21, is much more likely to draw the listener back than Postnikova's--the early, rather empty C sharp minor Sonata--finely as she plays it. The six pieces, unusually all based on the same theme emerge here as fascinating, richly enjoyable works. I'd always thought the fugal No. 2 creakily academic, but in Pletnev's hands the image of Russian romantic contemplating Bach is exquisitely conveyed--it even made me wonder if Shostakovich knew it when he wrote his own 24 Preludes and Fugues. And the funereal No. 4, with its dramatic Dies irae-based climax, is superbly done--with the melodic lines in the heavily textured central crescendo picked out effortlessly (or at least that's how it sounds). This is all exceptional playing, and the recording--bright in the treble, but also warm in tone--is ideally attuned to all its moods and colours.