As fast as you can...
Jonathan Blumhofer | Chicago | 07/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've taken notice in the last few months to the fact that Russian orchestras seem to play Russian music really, really well. This CD is a fine example to back up that observance. Pletnev is incredible in his speed on some of these pieces, and the orchestra is even moreso in its ability to keep up. I've never heard "Russlan & Ludmilla" played so quickly (the CSO/Solti take 8 seconds longer), and it's really pretty nifty hearing unison strings playing as quickly as possible. The clarinet solo towards the end of Borodin is outright gorgeous, and Shostakovich's Festival Overture is (for lack of more clever terming ability) quite festive indeed. The rest of the disc is an assortment of delights, including (among other things) an early Tchaikovsky piece. Overall it's a lot of fun and a treat to listen to."
Speed, Sure, but There's More to This Recording Than That
Jonathan Blumhofer | 11/19/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There's the music, for one thing. Pletnev has assembled the well-known (Glinka, Borodin, Shostakovich, Kabalevsky, Mussorgsky), the lesser known (Rimsky), and just about unknown (Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Glazounov) to create a winning program that, just when you think you've heard it all before, pops a surprise or two on you. Prokofiev's work is restrained and sauve, Tchaikovsky's and Glazounov's pieces big-boned and noisily dramatic. And that's the way Pletnev's programming works: the fleet and brilliant balanced by the grand and stately, the boisterous by the darkly passionate.The playing is of course to the manner born. Glazounov never quite adds up when played by a Western orchestra, but Pletnev states the composer's case very clearly and firmly. So, too, with the lesser bit of Tchaikovsky. But I find Pletnev's way with all this music, even his breakneck Glinka, compelling.In fact, I'd give this CD five stars except that the sound leaves something to be desired. Is it a bit lacking in presence? A bit strident? Both? Usually I can put my finger on a failing in this arena, but here I'm not sure what the trouble is--just that this is not DG's best work. Still, for a well-thought-out, well-executed program of Russian music, you can't go wrong with this CD."
Jonathan Blumhofer | 06/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I absolutely love the quality to which the Russian National
Orchestra plays these overtures. What a distinctly Russian style. Almost takes you to Moscow.
I do have to say, that I enjoy Ruslan and Ludmilla played a bit slower...there is so much depth to that piece, that it gets missed when played in such a rapid style. Although it is nice for a variation.
If you enjoy overtures or Russian composers....you will enjoy this CD!"