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Tchaikovsky: Symphonic Poems, "Manfred" Symphony Box set


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Tchaikovsky: Symphonic Poems, "Manfred" Symphony + Tchaikovsky: 18 pieces for solo piano, Op. 72
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Product details

  • Audio CD (10 Aug 2010)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B0001ZWGIS
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,814 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Romeo and Juliet - Fantasy Overture after Shakespeare
2. Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32 - Symphonic Fantasia after Dante
3. Voyewoda, Op. 78 - Symphonic Ballad
4. The Tempest, Op. 18 - Symphonic Fantasia after Shakespeare
Disc: 2
1. Marche slave Op. 31
2. Fate, Op. 77 - Symphonic Fantasy
3. Hamlet Op. 67 - Fantasy Overture after Shakespeare
4. Capriccio Italien, Op. 45
Disc: 3
1. Overture in F Major Op. 67
2. Lento lugubre - Moderato con moto
3. Vivace Con Spirito
4. Andante Con Moto
5. Allegro Con Fuoco
6. Ouverture Solennelle '1812', Op. 49

Product Description

CD 1 Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet; Francesca da Rimini; Voyevoda; The Tempest 1 Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture [19:16] 2 Francesca da Rimini, Op.32 [23:51] 3 The Voyevode, Op.78 [14:10] 4 The Tempest, Op.18 [21:39] Russian National Orchestra, Mikhail Pletnev Total Time 1:18:56 CD 2 Tchaikovsky: Marche slave; Festival Overture; Fate; Hamlet; Capriccio italien 1 Slavonic March, Op.31 [9:27] 2 Festival Overture on the Danish National Anthem op.15 [12:41] 3 Fatum, Op.77 [18:35] 4 Hamlet - Overture-Fantasy after Shakespeare, Op.67 [18:57] 5 Capriccio italien, Op.45 [17:06] Russian National Orchestra, Mikhail Pletnev Total Time 1:16:46 CD 3 Tchaikovsky: Overture in F major; "Manfred" Symphony; Overture "1812" 1 Overture in F major [11:01] Manfred Symphony, Op.58 2 1. Lento lugubre - Moderato con moto - Andante [15:13] 3 2. Vivace con spirito [9:48] 4 3. Andante con moto [10:14] 5 4. Allegro con fuoco [18:25] 6 Ouverture solennelle "1812, " Op.49 [15:46] Russian National Orchestra, Mikhail Pletnev

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrew C. Mitchell TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 6 Jun 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Here are twelve symphonic poems played by the Russian National Orchestra, one of the world's great orchestras,conducted by its founder and principal conductor,Mikhail Pletnev in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory,in repertoire with which its players have grown up. Both solo and sectional work are excellent. With this magnificent collection it is possible to grasp the breadth and depth of Tchaikovsky's great themes of love, lust, violence, death and destruction.
Among Tchaikovsky's earlier works are the Overture in F, Festival Overture on the Danish National Anthem, and Fatum (Fate) which are given lively and interesting performances. These poems use some themes which are later developed in other works. The popular Romeo and Juliet is well played. A less familiar work is The Tempest. Here, Pletnev carefully balances the themes of brooding mysterious calm, and tempest,Ariel and Caliban and the love theme. A work from Tchaikovsky's later life is Hamlet. Mighty ascents and descents through the strings portray violent emotions with effect. Two great patriotic pieces are the Marche Slave and the 1812 overture. Powerful and energetic brass is unleashed. But with more power get blown away in the whirlwind of the second hell occupied by Francesca da Rimini and her husband's brother doomed to agony for ever with the memory of their love. Very different is a holiday-based piece -the Capriccio Italien. This is given a delicate and leisurely reading. Pletnev's view of the Manfred Symphony in Four Scenes after the dramatic poem by Byron has been much admired. Finally there is Voyewoda (the provincial governor). After a tender loving middle section there is a death with a snarl and a whimper. This final symphonic poem is well worth its place here.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 July 2011
Format: Audio CD
This is definitely my idea of a good cultural bargain. For a very modest cost here are all but one of Tchaikovsky's tone poems and overtures in excellent sound and in distinguished performances. The three discs total to nearly four hours of music (counting the 1812 as music for simplicity), and the last disc includes the great Manfred symphony, denied a place or number among the `regular' symphonies and apparently still not very often performed. The only work missing, for whatever reason, is the tone poem The Storm, not to be confused with The Tempest which you will find on the second disc.

For those setting out on their Tchaikovsky collecting it would be hard to imagine a better place to start. Those, like myself, whose collections already include all or most of these pieces could do much worse than add this compendium to what they already own because with quality like this at a price like this it seems almost pointless not to. My own experience of these works, as distinct from the symphonies, is that good performances reach a certain level but there seems to be a `ceiling' on what can be achieved with them. In the symphonies you can encounter revelation from Mravinsky, but with the possible exception of a recording of Francesca da Rimini by Stokowski too long ago for me to trust my recollection the same sort of events seem not to happen with the tone poems. Once performances reach the `optimum' level there are no outright winners. It is just a matter of niceties in the interpretations, but to have two or more accounts of the better works is a luxury we can afford at this kind of price.

A partial exception might be the Capriccio Italien as Pletnev does it. I say this because over my lengthening lifetime I would have paid good money to avoid this piece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 7 April 2014
Format: MP3 Download
Unfortunately for those who download the MP3 version, the last few seconds of the Romeo and Juliet Overture are cut off, which completely spoils the track. i'm guessing this isn't a problem on the CD?
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rev. D. W. Elliott on 7 Jun 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is an excellent collection of both well-known and lesser known orchestral pieces by Tchaichovsky. The orchestra plays with verve and some sensitivity. Comprising three CDs, it is also good value.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
An Outstanding Collection 5 Nov 2004
By David A. Wend - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
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.
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
One of the greatest achievements in the Tchaikovsky discography--Not to be missed 19 Nov 2006
By Aronne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
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.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
A Superb Bargain 8 May 2006
By M. C. Passarella - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
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.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A Great Deal ---- Well Played Tchaikovsky 7 Sep 2009
By Transfigured Knight - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This Tchaikovsky collection with Mikhail Pletnev and the Russian National Orchestra is simply a sonic marvel. These Deutsche Grammophon recordings bring together many of Tchaikovsky's symphonic poems, overtures, and the rarely played "Manfred Symphony." Pletnev, who has receieved a lot of flack from Amazon reviewers and critics as being a mediocre conductor, truly turns in some of the best performances of his career. I have not heard his recordings of the symphonies, "Sleeping Beauty," etc., but I think this set has a lot of merit and will please the longtime Tchaikovsky fan, while, in the process, will hopefully bring his music to the newer fan.

One of the things that I can say about this set is I've never heard "Romeo and Juliet Overture," "Hamlet," "Francesca da Remini," "The Tempest," "Marche Slave," "Manfred Symphony," and "The Voyevoda (Symphonic Ballad)" sound so good. I think this collection is worth it for these outstanding performances alone. If you're new to Tchaikovsky, you'll love this set or if you're a longtime listener, you'll also find much enjoyment with these readings. Highly recommended.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
GOODY BAG 10 July 2011
By DAVID BRYSON - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is definitely my idea of a good cultural bargain. For a very modest cost here are all but one of Tchaikovsky's tone poems and overtures in excellent sound and in distinguished performances. The three discs total to nearly four hours of music (counting the 1812 as music for simplicity), and the last disc includes the great Manfred symphony, denied a place or number among the `regular' symphonies and apparently still not very often performed. The only work missing, for whatever reason, is the tone poem The Storm, not to be confused with The Tempest which you will find on the second disc.

For those setting out on their Tchaikovsky collecting it would be hard to imagine a better place to start. Those, like myself, whose collections already include all or most of these pieces could do much worse than add this compendium to what they already own because with quality like this at a price like this it seems almost pointless not to. My own experience of these works, as distinct from the symphonies, is that good performances reach a certain level but there seems to be a `ceiling' on what can be achieved with them. In the symphonies you can encounter revelation from Mravinsky, but with the possible exception of a recording of Francesca da Rimini by Stokowski too long ago for me to trust my recollection the same sort of events seem not to happen with the tone poems. Once performances reach the `optimum' level there are no outright winners. It is just a matter of niceties in the interpretations, but to have two or more accounts of the better works is a luxury we can afford at this kind of price.

A partial exception might be the Capriccio Italien as Pletnev does it. I say this because over my lengthening lifetime I would have paid good money to avoid this piece. It is not my idea of one of the better works, but Pletnev's careful and measured handling of it, together with the fine orchestral tone, makes it downright enjoyable. Two works are probably not widely known, the overture in F major and the Festival Overture on the Danish National Anthem. The former is charming and a welcome addition to my collection, the latter is probably only of interest to Danes, and Danes likely know it already.

The major effort here is the Manfred `symphony', grouped here with the symphonic poems although it is in the standard 4-movement romantic symphony form. This time I thought it worth while playing a comparative version, and I chose my LP reading by Previn with the LSO. That was highly regarded in its time, I have always thought well of it, and I find that I still do. It is a performance I would recommend to anyone if it is available on cd, and I still give it the edge over Pletnev. As seems invariable in symphonic poem territory, my preference is not clear cut. The themes at the start of the first and last movements have a rather higher `profile' from Previn, and this may have as much to do with the playing and recording as with the conducting. Pletnev's Russian orchestra, seemingly pieced together from the chaos after the fall of the Soviet Union, is absolutely fine and the recording is excellent, but Previn's band is after all the mighty LSO in its prime. Again in the second movement I found greater crispness in the LSO's playing, but again there is not a lot in it; and one place where I am in no doubt which I prefer is the trio section, where Pletnev's slower tempo allows the tune greater lyricism and grace.

Manfred takes up most of the last disc, which is rounded off with the 1812. This goes as it should, if you want it to go at all that is. Perhaps Ashkenazy gets a bigger effect with his authentic bells, but if after subsequent playings of Manfred I switch off when that is finished it will not be to change the record to Ashkenazy's. There is a liner note, confined in its remarks to the music but quite interesting and given in German and French as well as English. Considering what else this set provides me with, I am grateful for anything in addition.
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