Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Tchaikovsky, Yablonsky, Russian State So|
Listen to Samples
At last - the Swan Lake Tchaikovsky intended
Bryan Leech | Melbourne, VIC, Australia | 07/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You can keep all your Swan Lakes by the top Western orchestras; generally they are concentrating on maintaining the 'name' of the orchestra and conductor by concentrating on a refined sound to the performance. But although we rarely hear it, the Russians put great emphasis on 'soul', in other words on the music itself, (i.e., the music is more important than the performers) and much Russian music benefits from a slightly different approach than many other well-known composers that hail from other places.
The Russian State Symphony may not quite match the world's very top orchestras for a highly polished technique, but they are still an excellent ensemble, for which no apologies are needed. Combined with a Russian conductor who not only knows the printed notes on the page, but understands the music they are trying to convey, and you have a Swan Lake unmatched by any other modern recording, a Swan Lake that Tchaikovsky was thinking of.
I have the SACD release of this performance where the sound is up with the highest examples of the recording art, so I expect the CD to have excellent sound too, it would have come from the same DSD masters. Another reviewer has pointed out that the performance is slightly faster than many recordings. I would reply that it sounds as if the conductor has conducted this for ballet performances and knows you can't leave a dancer suspended in mid-air while you dwell lovingly over a particularly beautiful passage. This is also a dancer's performance.
The orchestra responds with a wonderful interpretation. There are some exquisite solos in the quieter sections (listen for sections where melodies dance from one woodwind to another, each brief solo beautifully executed). And, in contrast, the full orchestra brings out the strengths of the composer, playing with excellent ensemble, and producing that slightly different, authentic Russian sound. Then at the very end, wait to hear the trumpet soar triumphantly over the entire orchestra in the most wonderful finale you will ever hear.
For years I have been waiting for a Swan Lake like this, and I was ecstatic when I found it. In addition to the qualities mentioned (and I could extol the virtues of this performance in much greater detail), as another reviewer points out, you are getting the complete work (rare, it almost invariably, like many ballets and operas, suffers from cuts that can vary from a couple of bars to an entire sequence) and the sections are all presented in the original sequence, again, a rarity.
For me, from performances recorded in the last, say, 20 years, this is the only one to consider, and it is provided at a good price. Don't go looking for the cheapest recording you can find (unless budget makes this necessary). And don't go looking for a performance from the most famous orchestra you can find. I would venture that no American orchestra, and I'll add in the British orchestras, as good as so many are, would have a chance of matching the beautiful and exciting authenticity of this recording. Look no further.
PS. This review is full of superlatives and no criticisms: it's because I can find nothing to fault because the overall result is so close to perfection. You will wait a long time for a better total performance. My highest recommendation."
A bracing, rough-edged reading
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 12/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was cruising through bargain sets of Swan Lake, and although this one on Naxos isn't near the top (espeially at the new high price) it's robust and authentic, thoroughly in the Russian manner, which never veers toward over-refinement. Yablonsky's tempos are fast to the point of briskness -- he cuts half a minute off many of the shorter numbers and a full minute off the Act 1 Valse compared to almost everyone else. The russian State Sym. is good but definitely not of the highest caliber, yet the playing comes across as enthusiastic. Now that there are bargain issues from Sawallisch and the Philadelphia Orch. (EMI) and Ozawa with the BSO (DG), you can get truly elegant playing that far surpasses this performance; on the other hand you won't get as much rough vitalaity."
R. B. MacHatton | Lancaster, PA USA | 12/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this CD as a gift to a young friend, hoping to increase her appreciation for classical music. I could not have made a better purchase. It is a wonderful performance of one of the great works. I think when God gave us classical music he had Tchaikovsky in mind."