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Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 2 / Mikhail Pletnev

Album Summary

>Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich : Symphony no 2 in C minor, Op. 17 "Little Russian"
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

The Russian National Orchestra was founded by the conductor and pianist Mikhail Pletnev in 1990, following sweeping changes in the former USSR. Under his artistic leadership, the orchestra soon achieved international renown and established its hallmarks of innovation and excellence. In 2008, a panel of international critics named the Russian National Orchestra as one of the world's top orchestras. Gramophone magazine called the first Russian National Orchestra CD release in 1991, of music by Tchaikovsky, "an awe-inspiring experience; should human beings be able to play like this?" The orchestra now presents a stunning recording of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2.

BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012
Here [Pletnev] presents not only the standard version, but also the first movement in its original form, which several of Tchaikovsky's colleagues thought far superior to the revised version...Pletnev's performance of this with the Russian National Orchestra is far more polished than the only other recording.

Gramophone Magazine, November 2012
I doubt that there is a more articulate perofrmance to be found at the present time. Pristine of texture and lithe of rhythm, the quality of the playing and engineering acts like a steam clean on the piece. The beauty and agility of the woodwind-playing alone is a joy...Pletnev and his band dispatch [the] finale with a keenness which keeps the bombast at bay...I don't think I've ever ehard the final pages sound more exciting.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: DZZ Studio 5, Moscow (04/2011).


Tchaikovsky; Symphony No. 2; Pletnev; Pentatone
In Tchaikovsky's time, the Ukraine was called "Little Russia." Because Tchaikovsky used several Ukrainian folk melodies in this work, his Second Symphony, the critic Nicholas Kashkin nicknamed it the "Little Russian." Despite the fact that recording companies have traditionally neglected this symphony compared with the last three Tchaikovsky symphonies, there are plenty of recordings from which to choose.
The symphony exists in two versions; dissatisfied with the first version of 1872, Tchaikovsky revised the symphony in 1879. Most CDs offer the final version, although the 1872 version, conducted by Geoffrey Simon, is available on a CD. What makes this CD unique is that the 1879 version is offered, together with a fifth track that offers the 1872 version of the first movement. It is interesting to compare the two versions of the opening movement, originally called Andante sostenuto - Allegro comodo, but subsequently renamed Andante sostenuto - Allegro vivo and shortened from ca. 16 minutes to 11 minutes. To shorten a 16-minute movement to one of 11 minutes, Tchaikovsky pruned it drastically, and to me the revised version is the better of the two. The original contains material that seems to me to add little or nothing to the movement's overall structure and detracts from the momentum. Unlike the original (1869) version of "Romeo and Juliet," which is startlingly different from the 1880 version, there are, to my ear, no corresponding radical changes here, just removal of superfluous material.
This new version, by the Russian National Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev, will surely please those who want to hear the original and revised versions of the first movement, plus the rest of the symphony, all on one CD. Don't let the strange album picture put you off; the recorded sound is first-rate.
Ted Wilks
Submitted on 07/15/12 by Ted Wilks 
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Works Details

>Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich : Symphony no 2 in C minor, Op. 17 "Little Russian"
  • Conductor: Mikhail Pletnev
  • Ensemble: Russian National Orchestra
  • Running Time: 32 min. 4 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1872