Easily the poorest major recording of this work currently available, Mikhail Pletnev's Manfred is shallow, lacking in tension and drama, and played with mechanical precision by a well-drilled, but otherwise undistinguis... more »hed orchestra. The recording balances the brass and percussion far to the rear, further reducing the impact of what ought to be, by any measure, a shattering experience. A major disappointment by a fine pianist who is failing to make it as a conductor. --David Hurwitz« less
Easily the poorest major recording of this work currently available, Mikhail Pletnev's Manfred is shallow, lacking in tension and drama, and played with mechanical precision by a well-drilled, but otherwise undistinguished orchestra. The recording balances the brass and percussion far to the rear, further reducing the impact of what ought to be, by any measure, a shattering experience. A major disappointment by a fine pianist who is failing to make it as a conductor. --David Hurwitz
Another Plus for Pletnev!
J.C.Liu | Toronto | 03/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ignoring the disasterous review by Mr. Hurwitz, this recording is in every respect a very fine performance. As for the complaints about the distancing of the brass section etc, I can find no real fault with it other than some minor blurring of details. Jansons on Chandos might have a better measure of this symphony but you can't beat the generous coupling with "The Tempest". This offers over 75 minutes of music and you very seldom find such generosity on a DG disc! The overture is not an exceptional performance but is well-played. Jansons and some others only offer the symphony with no couplings and at full price these single item recordings are proving to be rather unattractive in value. Mr. Hurwitz's statement that Pletnev continues to be a disappointment as a conductor is certainly one of the most naive comments made by any music critic/reviewer. Pletnev's recordings including his wonderful Tchaikovsky Symphony 6 and Sleeping Beauty are testaments to his excellence as a conductor. By the way this recording of Manfred was given a glowing review and a three star rating from the Penguin Guide! This is a highly recommendable recording!"
Excellent sound overall
Mr. Allan K. Steel | Sydney, AUS | 01/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What's wrong with D. Hurwitz? Just listen to very end of 1st movement and you not only get good loud cymbal crash, but even the gong is quite clear in a HUGE tutti. The brass (particularly the high horns) come through brilliantly -- LOTS of drama! So a superb over-the-top ending to 1st movement.
Horns are consistenly clear throughout. Excellent presence: strings close and woodwind really clear (great in 2nd movement).
Overall, I find it an EXCELLENT recording.
Did DH review the wrong disc???"
Fine Performances of the Manfred Symphony and Tempest
John Kwok | New York, NY USA | 02/04/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having heard the Russian National Orchestra perform at Carnegie Hall last night, I know I can easily discount again yet another dismal review from Mr. Hurwitz. This young orchestra, founded by Mikhail Pletnev, is truly one of the world's greatest orchestras I thought they sounded better and played with more enthusiasm and precision than the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of its new music director, Sir Simon Rattle, when the Berliners visited New York City's Carnegie Hall last November.). I have not heard Mariss Jansons's electrifying account of the Manfred Symphony, but Pletnev's account has earned a glowing three-star review in the Penguin Guide.Both performances on this recording are replete with ample brilliance and warmth. The only problems are technical, which is why this fine CD is earning four stars. To my amazement, the recording sounds not well balanced, and at times, distant. I am truly surprised that Deutsche Grammophon would make such a serious error. Yet despite this major error, Pletnev's interpretations are still worth acquiring."
Unusually elegant and restrained Tchaikovsky
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 05/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I imagine Keith Olbermann of MSNBC would refer to the Amazon reviewer as "well-known comedian David Hurwitz," whose broadside against Pletnev's Manfred Symphony prepared me for something special. And it is. First of all, contrary to Mr. Hurwitz, DG's engineering is demonstration quality, and the Russian Naitonal Orch. play with great skill and commitment.
As for Pletnev's interpretation, his style with Tchaikovsky is well known by now: elegant, unsentimental, perfectly voiced, but a trifle too studied and restrained. That mostly holds good here. This is one of the least bombastic Manfred Sym. readings to be heard. Tchaikovsky himself was doubtful about the work, and it's refreshing to hear it taken seriously with such meticulous respect for detail. However, a visceral reading this is not, so the listener should be prepared.
The Tempest, a 20-min. tone poem (or fantasy-overture to use the composer's peculiar term), needs all the help it can get, and I wish Pletnev hadn't been quite so understated with it, although the lyrical themes are beautifully phrased. Once again, however, the spectacular sonics from DG give the music great impact in the storm sections."