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4.8 out of 5 stars20
4.8 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 14 October 2008
Simply a marvellous performance and recording of Tchaikovsky's (slightly neglected) Manfred Symphony. The R.L.P.O play marvellously, with particularly characterful woodwinds, and Petrenko delivers a performance that has all the excitement of a live performance. The great melody in the strings in the final movement is delivered with a terrific sweep; this is a truly committed performance, and is very well recorded (much better than most record companies get in Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall).

At this price it's an absolute bargain. Tchaikovsky lovers don't hesitate!
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on 11 September 2010
I had the pleasure of hearing this work in its entirety for the first time at this year's (2010) Prom concerts, and to quote an old phrase, it knocked my socks off! The RLPO gave a performance which I've since relived on this CD; superb playing, wonderful performance, and a conductor who clearly lives and loves this music and (as I have subsequently found, to my delight)other examples of the symphonic repertoire. From start to glowing finish, the performance is excellent, and Naxos are to be thanked for giving this disc to the market.
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on 2 January 2010
Why would you expect to find contact with the nineteenth century Byronic spirit in a recording of music released early in the twenty first century from a city based in the north west of England?

Try this performance of Manfred and find out why?

Not just for the sentimental and backward-looking; this is also a performance of power and precision. The fact that I was so transported by the beauty of the Alpine scene (III - Andante) is just an unexpected bonus. The sprites are also present in this recording - it is multi-faceted.

The Voyevoda is a rarity and more welcome for that. I remember it was part of a much-treasured Dorati disc in the early '70s but gets a rare outing these days.

Having been well rewarded, recently, by the Shostakovich offerings from these forces I must say that I look forward to any and all of the future releases from the Petrenko /Liverpool / Naxos partnership
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 6 February 2012
Being neither strictly a symphony nor exactly a tone poem, "Manfred" is very free and episodic in construction and ranges across an enormous gamut of moods and emotions. It is of course Byronic both in inspiration and scope; its most passionate moments recall the episodes of whirling passion in my favourite of Tchaikovsky's symphonic poems, "Francesca da Rimini" but it also offers pastoral calm and Romantic yearning to create one of Tchaikovsky's most varied and febrile compositions.

I wonder why it has fallen into comparative disfavour; if any recording could revive interest it is this one. Petrenko does it again with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, making them sound like a world class orchestra, just as he has now done in several recordings. If I lived in or near Liverpool I would jump at every chance to hear them. The strings sound rich and full, the woodwind retain a pleasing rasp in late Romantic repertoire, and the sound provided by Naxos - surely 24 bit - is absolutely gripping in its warmth and immediacy. Try the entry of the organ at 17'24" for thrills; it in no way diminishes the sonorousness of the orchestra but just lifts everything on to a higher sonic plane - stunning.

Petrenko's conducting holds an essentially disparate piece together; he obviously loves the piece and his enthusiasm infects his players. The provision as a bonus of the equally rarely heard "Voyevoda" is very welcome; it is another arch-Romantic composition which often anticipates Sibelius in his most energised and liberated mode.
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on 22 January 2010
This is a fantastic world class performance by any standard of measure and ansolute bargain at the price. The Liverpool Philharmonic is on top form. The playing from all sections of the orchestra is sublime. As for the brass, well the sheer energy is amazing. This is a great recording. It is difficult to comprehend why Tschaikowsky had any doubts about it.

You can not help but wonder if Richard Strauss knew the work. The last couple of minutes of the finale reminded me of the conclusion of Strauss's tone poem Death and Transfiguration where the artist transcends the boundaries of the world. Clearly Vasily Petrenko is going to be one of the great conductors of the future. Just buy it.
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on 25 November 2009
Vasily Petrenko has put Liverpool Phil as well as this lovely piece firmly on the map in this recording. I have never heard Tchaikovsky played more lyrically and with such refined and expansive yet restrained rubato. A worthy winner of Gramophone award. When will they record the first (Winter daydreams)?
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Tchaikovsky's Manfred symphony is loosely based on the Byron poem following on from an earlier suggestion by Balakirev that he should write such a work based on the poem. Some years later Tchaikovsky dis just that and the resultant Manfred symphony comes between the fourth and fifth symphonies in order of symphonic compositions. it also follows the earlier Romeo and Francesca fantasy overtures so by now Tchaikovsky was a fully experienced composer of considerable repute.

This excellent recording from 2007 was named as orchestral disc of the year by the influential Gramophone magazine who also named Petrenko as young artist of the year in 2007. It was with this recording that Petrenko burst upon the musical world as a recording artist and who subsequently has had a string of further successes. He has taken great trouble to mould the Liverpool orchestra's sound in such a way as he feels is appropriate to playing Russian music such as this. It is evident that this has proved to be a very beneficial course of action and the orchestra is now considered to be of the first rank.

The performance of Manfred here is simply a compelling experience with all tempi of each movement chosen to perfection and with a clear grasp of structure that leads the listener on through the symphonic drama. The recording by Naxos does the 'performance' full credit and there is the sense of a 'live' occasion on the disc. The climatic endings to both of the outer movements are as compellingly satisfying as they should be.

The Voyevoda, a dark tale of betrayal and mistaken identity leading to the death of the innocent party, is a short but powerful work written just two years before Tchaikovsky's own death. It is a finely written achievement and is an unjustly neglected work receiving a fine performance on this disc.

I would suggest along with many other reviewers, that this disc fully deserves its high reputation and deserves to be included in collectors' collections either as an 'only' version or as one of several versions for comparison.
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on 22 October 2013
A fine recording of this often neglected work with a superb soundstage and natural sound. Recording quality is excellent. The RLPO under Petrenko give a first class rendition of this work with fine playing all round and some especially fine solos.

The performance has a lovely sound balance and clarity of the different instrumental sections and the conductor produces a very slavonic style from his orchestra.

A real joy to hear such a flowing account of Tchaikovsky's Manfred and well worth 5 stars. A steal at £6 so if you haven' heard this Tchaikovsky piece this is the version to buy based on quality and price. Enjoy it!
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on 9 June 2015
Petrenko achieves a fine quality of playing here with the Liverpool orchestra--finer than is usually heard in this Manfred symphony--and that goes a long way: Individual lines sing out firmly (as opposed to the listless playing in the first movement under Jurowski), rhythms are crisp, climaxes billow grandly, and the orchestra has a nice tonal quality. But for me it slightly misses the mark emotionally, compared to what I think are the best of other stereo readings.

The finest reading has always been Toscanini's: no one else has matched the perfect execution, the graciously sculpted phrases, the powerful climaxes, and the sense of narrative drama. Unfortunately it's in mediocre mono sound, but the memory is indelible. And the way he broadens the tempo at the conclusion of the symphony, and in the use of many other interpretive inflections throughout, gives the lie to the idea that he was a rigid or unsubtle conductor.

In stereo, I think Rostropovich comes closest to Toscanini in emotional impact, though the opening of his first movement is way too slow, and will remind some of Klemperer in his later days. Still, the final movement's conclusion is more effective under his baton than any.

Pletnev's two readings are very fine. The slightly over-reverberant sound (on DG, the one I prefer slightly at the moment) softens the dynamic impact of his orchestra's attacks somewhat, but he understands the music and seems to have lived with it longer than Petrenko, and even if Petrenko is a slightly better conductor, Pletnev is the better interpreter: the music unfolds with a seamless, organic, and more inevitable quality than in Petrenko, who seems to be fussy with it a little too much.
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on 15 July 2014
I bought the disc on the strength of Vasily Petrenko and the excellent rendition under his direction of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra of the Shostakovich Symphony Cycle.

But I had not the faintest idea that I would encounter a Symphony of such awe inspiring beauty. The rendition under the direction of brilliant Vasily Petrenko of an impeccable Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is exemplary while the sound under the supposedly humble Naxos label, exceptional.

Tchaikovsky drew inspiration for the Manfred Symphony by Byron's dramatic poem of the same name. For Tchaikovsky, as for Byron, Manfred represented the figure of the outsider, an outcast from society, a role in which the composer, haunted by his own homosexuality, saw himself.

The symphony contains some of the composer's most inspiring orchestrated music and beautiful melodies. I listened to the symphony truly spellbound. The magic with this symphony is that the beauty of orchestral variation and the beauty of melodies follow in an unending succession. No part of the symphony impacts on you a lesser spell than any other part. The experience was for me a rarity as it was fulfilling and gratifying, a magic spell.

The Voyevoda also a dark piece of music is beautiful on its own merit. The composer drew inspiration for this symphonic ballad from Pushkin who in turn was inspired by the Polish poet Mickiewitcz.

Before writing the review I listened to the symphony three times, a rarity for me.

The disc comprises a very rare gem in my disc collection and I intuit that I shall be drawn to it often.
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