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Pletnev Live at Carnegie Hall
Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Frederic Chopin
Pletnev Live at Carnegie Hall
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #2

The 44-year-old Russian pianist-conductor Mikhail Pletnev made a belated Carnegie Hall debut as a pianist in November 2000. Listening to that recital on this CD confirms the wisdom of the pianist's decision to resign as mu...  more »


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Synopsis's Best of 2001
The 44-year-old Russian pianist-conductor Mikhail Pletnev made a belated Carnegie Hall debut as a pianist in November 2000. Listening to that recital on this CD confirms the wisdom of the pianist's decision to resign as music director of the Russian National Orchestra. In the Bach-Busoni "Chaconne," Pletnev's crescendos wash over the listener like tidal waves; the mighty edifice of the music seems to rise, mysteriously and inexorably, on its own. The angry surges in the first movement of Beethoven's Sonata, opus 111, are perhaps overdrawn. But the concluding movement's variations glide by as if in a dream, suggesting the transformation of the earlier movement's passionate anger into a vision of Paradise beyond the power of words to describe. In Chopin's Four Scherzos, Pletnev emphasizes too many details and inhibits the music's lyrical sweep. But the charm and dazzling pyrotechnics of his encores help make this the first great piano recording of the millennium. After Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Scarlatti, and Moszkowski, Pletnev's fifth and final encore was Balakirev's transcendentally difficult Islamey. The superhuman virtuosity, sonorous splendor, and Technicolor exoticism of this performance will knock your socks off--and the rest of your clothes as well! --Stephen Wigler

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CD Reviews

Virtuosism and Musicality in a perfect balance
condoraji | 02/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"One of my musical highlights last year was attending Mikhael Pletnev's recital at Carnegie Hall, and I must say that it is extremely appropriate for this concert to have been recorded. The quality of the music is at its fullest. Pletnev manages at all times to show a very high level of virtuosism, but never for a second abandoning the musical maturity of a great musician. The combination never fails to give us daring, interesting, impressive and new results. The Chacone is an extremely tough piece that challenges the pianist in every way conceivable during the full fifteen minutes of its length. In it, Pletnev plays with an interesting approach that is full of sonority. The huge chords just resonate in the air and together create a wonderful ambiance for the harmonies and melody to unfold. Beethoven's last piano Sonata is such an interesting work because each pianist does such a different thing with it. Pletnev plays it with with a huge range of emotions and does a supberb version of it. Its definitely closer, for example, to Pogorelich's interpretation than Arrau's. Its bold and yet, subtle and sublime. Chopin's Scherzos are also pieces that allow virtuosism to overflow. However, to play them well requires a lot more than just that. What Pletnev does with them it exquisite. I cannot forget the experience of the second scherzo (the one that can almost make you sick if it isn't played really well) being a total surprise for me. In the slow section Pletnev makes the piano sing melodies that I had never heard before, melodies of great musical depth. The playing is, in my opionion, a lot more profound and stimulating than Rubinstein's. A most extraordinary effort by Pletnev. This was the official ending of the concert. However, after came an exquisite set of five encores where Pletnev proved even further how his attitude is of service to music. The order of the encores in the CD is actually the order in which he played them. It was very surprising to hear him start the Islamey after having given four other encores. A major work like this is usually part of the program, and with what mastery he plays it. This CD is a set of master interpretations put together of some of the greatest works around. Additionally, live recordings always have that extra flavor to them, and it certainly is very present here. Bravo for Deutsche Gramophon and for Pletnev!"
Fabulous Pletnev Concert
Alex Serrano | Perrysburg, Ohio United States | 03/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As well as another reviewer for this double cd, i was also at the concert and am very happy this recital was taped including the encores. Pletnev plays the 4 Chopin scherzos in a daredevil act following the footsteps of Sviatoslav Richter's Carnegie Hall debut more than 30 years ago. It pays off with outstanding bravura, lyricism, and sober planning and laying out of the works. The Bach-Busoni Chaconne is a viruosic approach, however never neglecting the dark angst of the original violin solo. The encores include Balakiriev's Islamey which truly brought the house down - amazing speed and clarity. But at the concert, those of us fortunate to remember even without this disc, the most memorable moments came in the Beethoven sonata #32 - i remember the deep respect of the public, the spaciousness of the hall, and that loud silence which very rarely a performer is granted in recognition by the public. Get this cd if you went to the concert - but more important if you missed it, you will be able to understand the enthrallment shared by us who were there."
Brilliant pianism, captured in stunning DG sound!
P. Rah | Sion, Switzerland | 04/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have, like the other reviewer, not heard Pletnev as a pianist, although I knew that he was a pianist as well as conductor, of which he does a brilliant job. So I wasn't sure what to expect from this recital. I have to say that I envy the two reviewers who had the great fortune to see this pianist live at Carnegie Hall very much.Well, I was in for an exciting musical trip. From the first note of the Bach Chaconne, his pianistic talent just blew me away. Here was a decidely heavy reading of the piano transcription of the famous violin piece. It is a passionate account. I had not heard Bach played on the piano like that before, so I was a little shocked. It had its logic in it, not just passion and fire in the playing, which I found refreshing. So many Bach performances that are full of romantic passion - which is not a bad thing - lack intelligence and logic, so it fails to become a coherent reading. I didn't find that to be true with Pletnev's playing.The Beethoven I found was amazing, to say the least. Here is a reading of such inward intensity, that I found myself almost not breathing - like most of the live Carnegie Hall audience (notorious for the passionate roar if they aprrove of a performance), who were sooooo silent throughout the whole sonata. It is so hard to INTERPRET the late sonatas of Beethoven well, because they are so enigmatic in many ways. But Pletnev takes this challenge and surprisingly succeeds. It is intelligent, but never mechanical, and I think that's very rare. But with a pianist of Pletnev's stature, such things might be taken for granted.Not that everything in this recital is perfect. Almost, but not quite. The Chopin scherzi are played, again, with imagination. But for op.39, it sounds like mannerism. Musically, I think that the c#minor scherzo is the least satisfactory in the whole recital, because the use of rubato is misjudged in many passages. Delays are too frequent, which makes the piece more slower and pompous than it actually is. Compare this op. 39 with the famous recording of Martha Argerich (on both EMI and DG, but I prefer the DG. It is more coherent a reading). The Argerich is a direct account, and I think that's what is missing in Pletnev's interpretation. It is all over the place, structurally. But enough of this criticism. The rest of the scherzos are played stunningly here.Well, that's the formal programme finished. But the ecstatic Carnegie Hall audience was not going to let Pletnev go easily (as you can hear from the applause - it's ear-deafening stuff!). So, Pletnev played 5 encores, which DG generously put on a bonus CD. The Rakhmaninov is simply beautiful. Nothing less, nothing more. The Scriabin and Scarlatti pieces are nice encore pieces, but they didn't capture my ears greatly. However they were, as I said, good. The encores I most enjoyed were the last two pieces, the Etude de virtuosite, by Moszkowski and Islamey, by Balakirev. As the title suggests, the Moszkowski is a virtuoso piece, and Plentnev sounds, well, virtuosic beyond belief. But the one piece that really took my blew me over from the Encore CD was Islamey. This is a piece riddled with difficulties that early pianists found it unplayayble. Many pianinsts since then have proved them wrong. And so does Pletnev. Just as soon as the applause finished for the Moszkowski, the pianist lauched himself into the Balkirev piece. There is a real Oriental flavour to this piece, and Pletnev brought it out with such fire. The final page is played with all the might he can muster - one would think that, after all the tough programme he played, he would show at least noticeable signs of tiredness, but obviously the playing of Islamey proves one wrong. Very wrong. In fact, it almost led me to believe that he was saving his energy for this show-stopper - and he pounds the keys with so much fury, which drives the audience wild. Just listen to the applause!! The sound is very clear, detailed DG sound. The engineers have done a great job of capturing the full acoustic of Carnegie Hall. It has very realistic ambience to it.I know this has been a very enthusiastic review, almost bordering on sports commentating, but I'm not ashamed of that. It's a great CD, and pianos lovers should have a copy of this in his/her collection. Whew!"