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Tchaikovsky Symphonic Poems / Manfred Symphony
Tchaikovsky, Russian National Orchestra, Pletnev
Tchaikovsky Symphonic Poems / Manfred Symphony
Genres: Special Interest, Classical


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CD Details

All Artists: Tchaikovsky, Russian National Orchestra, Pletnev
Title: Tchaikovsky Symphonic Poems / Manfred Symphony
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Release Date: 6/15/2004
Album Type: Box set
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Styles: Marches, Forms & Genres, Theatrical, Incidental & Program Music, Symphonies
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaCD Credits: 3
UPC: 028947705321

CD Reviews

An Outstanding Collection
D. A Wend | Buffalo Grove, IL USA | 11/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The 3 CDs in this set are available separately from Deutsche Gramophone but the set is such a good buy that if you don't have any of the Pletnev/Russian National Orchestra series buy this set.

The performances come from 1994, 1997 and 1998. Each CD is generously filled (total timing: 237 minutes) with the third topping at 80:40. This is a fairly comprehensive survey of Tchaikovsky's shorter orchestral works. An exception is The Storm op. 76 (a work dating to 1864 but not performed and published until after the composer's death) but the omission is made up for with the obscure Overture in F major and the Festive Overture on the Danish National Anthem. The collection includes excellent performances of such staples as Romeo and Juliet, Francesca da Rimini, Marche slav, the 1812 Overture, Hamlet and Capriccio Italien.

Among the less familiar works there is an excellent recording of The Tempest and the works published following the death of Tchaikovsky: Fate op. 77 and Voyewoda op. 78. Fate has an interesting history. It was written in 1869, to no specific program, when Tchaikovsky was writing music under the tutelage of Milly Balakirev. The work was performed only twice, and when Balakirev made a critical comment Tchaikovsky withdrew the work and destroyed the score. Fate was assembled after his death and published.

The Manfred Symphony is also seldom performed and recorded and receives a great performance here. Mr. Pletnev takes a fast tempo at times. I think the conclusion of the first movement would have a more dramatic character if, like Andrew Litton and the Bournemouth, would have given more space to the music. Despite this small complaint, the symphony is beautifully played and the recording is nicely balanced, as are the other works.

This set is an excellent value, and even if you have some of the music recorded here you will want to have these superb performances. There is a booklet accompanying the set but it is only a brief survey of Tchaikovsky's music, as one would expect from a reduced price set.
One of the greatest achievements in the Tchaikovsky discogra
Aronne | 11/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is an inexpensive issue of phenomenal interpretations, electric when necessary, always on target.

Mikhail Pletnev began his career as a pianist, but when the USSR finally collapsed he took up conducting, piecing together his own orchestra of virtuoso players from the shambles. He made these recordings for Deutsche Grammaphon over a four year period; Manfred and the Tempest in 1993, the rest during two months in 1996. (I wonder what I was doing during those days.) The recorded sound is excellent--perhaps a little recessed here and there in Marche slave, but it is nothing to quibble over. The DG engineers do Pletnev proud, giving him the big Tchaikovsky sound without being terribly bombastic. And while we are on the topic of the bombastic...

Fatum is and excellent, neglected work. Many complain of its awkward form and bombastic nature, but I find little trace of this. Perhaps it is my love of Tchaikovsky's music in general that renders this music so delightful to me--perhaps it is Pletnev. He also does well in the other three little known works, namely The Voyevoda, The Festival Overture on the Danish National Anthem, and The Overture in F major (inaccurately described as Op. 67 on the case, that number belongs to Hamlet). Give these works time and they shall become nearly as much of a joy to listen to as Romeo and Juliet. The middle section of The Voyevoda is taken at a deliciously slow pace, allowing Tchaikovsky's beautiful writing to sing out in full. No complaints about the other two either.

Now to discuss the more popular works, many of which are still unjustly neglected. The Tempest comes to mind. It is my favorite piece of any sort that I have come across, period. Romeo and Juliet is sited in the Penguin Guide as one of the best in existence. The same guide states that the present recordings of Francesca da Rimini and Hamlet are very much in the same league as Stokowski's famous account. The introduction of Capriccio italien may be on the slow side, but Pletnev makes up for it with plenty of verve later on. 1812 Overture is also pleasantly executed.

Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony is simply not played enough. But here it is, coupled with a near complete program of Tchaikovsky Symphonic Poems at bargain price. The interpretation is nothing to scoff at either ("one of his finest Tchaikovsky records." Penguin Guide). I have heard complaints about the rubato, but do not see anything wrong with a few small tempo changes--and they are small. This account is among the best, about as excellent as Jansons' fabulous recording.

The packaging is good, the notes sparse, but if you want to know more about these works, the internet is more than willing to oblige.

Overall, this is indeed the best, a must for any admirer of the music or the performers (I am an admirer of both). If you desire but a single disc collection, Berstein's mid-price Sony recording is quite good, if you don't mind an analogue recording. Dorati's Double Decca is also fine, if a little lacking when compared to Berstein or Pletnev. I own another recording of all but two of the works in this trio set, and I prefer Pletnev in most every case. In other words, Pletnev is the way to go."
A Superb Bargain
M. C. Passarella | Lawrenceville, GA | 05/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Here is the place to get your Tchaikovsky program-music fix. It's all here, from the well-known and well-loved to the obscure and rightly-so. Into that latter category falls "Fatum," one of the Russian's most fatuous and bombastic compositions but still worth a listen for the colors this master orchestrator can draw from the instruments. And DG's recording captures the all-important low end of the orchestral spectrum, including bass drum, thrillingly! Similarly, the "Manfred Symphony," though not as well known as it should be, is a marvelous piece of orchestration, from the delicate shimmer of the waterfall and its attendant Alpine fairy, which Tchaikovsky paints in what amounts to a scherzo, to the wild bacchanal of the finale, rounded out with one of his most beautifully serene passages. Riccardo Muti's white-hot reading of this work on EMI is my favorite, but Pletnev is not far behind, and he is accorded slightly finer sound.

Among the well-known and well-loved compositions, there are "Romeo and Juliet" and "Francesca da Rimini," both given bold and dramatic readings here. In "Francesca da Rimini," I find Pletnev's tendency to luxuriate over certain passages hinders the flow of the music; this seems a common failure among pianists turned conductor, such as Daniel Barenboim and Christoph Eschenbach. But the conclusion of the work is wildly exciting in Pletnev's reading, as is the battle music in "Romeo," and in this work Pletnev is refreshingly straightforward in his approach.

If you don't know "The Voyevoda," Pletnev's reading should make you an instant admirer. This odd, demonically driven piece is Tchaikovsky's last tone poem; note the use of the celesta, a brand-new instrument that Tchaikovsky introduced to the music world in his "Nutcracker" around the same time, 1890-91. "The Voyevoda" is another tragic love tale like "Romeo" and "Francesca," but it has a focus and singleness of purpose that are rare among Tchaikovsky's tone poems. "Hamlet," for instance, is one of those pieces that seem to ramble a bit--like "Fatum"--but Pletnev does as much as he can with it.

In those great old chestnuts "Marche Slav" and the "1812 Overture," Pletnev and his forces really deliver. True, these pieces almost play themselves, but the performances here sound especially idiomatic, full of Russian melancholy at the opening, Russian fire at the close.

The only omission I can think of is Tchaikovsky's early "The Storm," not to be confused with "The Tempest," which DG does include in this box set. If you want "The Storm," there is a nice recording from Naxos with Antoni Wit; it includes a sympathetic if slightly understated performance of the Fifth Symphony. But "The Tempest" is a more striking work, with a very dramatic opening and some thrilling tone painting in the pages that portray the eponymous tempest. Pletnev and his orchestra do it to a T. As with the "Manfred Symphony" and "The Voyevoda," I believe this is underrated Tchaikovsky and am glad Pletnev does it such justice.

DG provides big, sumptuous sound in all these works, really underscoring the drama inherent in Pletnev's readings. In fact, these are some of the best sounding discs I've heard of Tchaikovsky's music. So for lovers of Tchaikovsky's music and for sound buffs alike, this is indeed a great bargain."