Top positive review
37 people found this helpful
Brilliant Tchaikovsky Edition
on 27 October 2011
It is hard to be other than pleased following the release of a new Brilliant Classics set, representing as they do quantity and quality at bargain prices. In common, I suspect, with very many others, I was delighted to see the appearance of a Tchaikovsky edition. Again probably along with many others, I already possessed a good number of mainstream Tchaikovsky recordings (although short on the operas and songs) and was looking forward to acquiring the many minor and lesser known works. However, I have to admit to some disappointment because of this expectation, churlish as it may seem to criticise because of the tremendous value involved.
Now it is not claimed that this is a "Complete Works" set, but I am sure many will share my disappointment at the omissions in virtually all categories of works. In numerical terms, most of these are the many short compositions of various types, but also missing are such things as the orchestral overtures, most surprisingly the tone poems "The Tempest" and "The Voyevoda", the first operas, and the Cantatas. Perhaps I am being unfair, as many of these pieces have probably never been recorded, or if they have, obtaining licences was impossible, but as the major Tchaikovsky works are so well known and available (except perhaps the operas and songs) I am sure many were also hoping for the rarer things in this set and will therefore share my disappointment.
A further disappointment arises from some of the recordings. Of great interest in many of the Brilliant sets are the historic recordings, but these are normally supplied as a supplement, repeating some of the works in the main sequence of modern recordings which are largely, if not entirely, digital and made in the studio. Although there are many such fine recordings in the main sequence of this set, there are also quite a few older ones there which really belong to the historic category. This, of course, is not to lessen the value of these older, mainly Russian, recordings for their own sake, and after all the 1952 recording of "The Queen of Spades" which is included was chosen recently in Radio 3's Building a Library as the best recording of the opera available. However, personally I would have preferred to have the whole of the main sequence in more modern recordings with an extended historic section for these older ones. Perhaps, again, it is a question of licensing.
All opinions of this type vary, of course, according to individual taste and requirements, and there are many who will be satisfied with the choice of some or many of the recordings which may not be welcome to others. For instance, many may be disappointed with the shortened versions of "Swan Lake" (by Drigo) and the Second Piano Concerto (by the composer and Siloti) which have been selected for inclusion in the main sequence. However, in my case, already possessing recordings of these full scores, I was pleased to have once more these abridged versions on CD, replacing vinyl recordings of the same which I threw away many years ago and subsequently regretted doing so. To each his own, and in these sets there is always something for everyone.
There are several errors on the sleeves as there always seem to be (why can't companies employ good and knowledgeable proof readers?) and some of this material could perhaps be better arranged, eg with the operas. I have not studied the CD-ROM yet. There were some minor scratches on some of the CDs in my set but none which affected playing. This has not always been the case in my experience of Brilliant CDs and at least at some stage I believe there must have been production quality control problems. I have, however, never experienced missing and/or duplicated CDs in a set which I believe has occurred at times elsewhere, and is obviously such a chore to put right.
None of these critical points should detract from the generally good quality of this and other Brilliant sets, most of which can be obtained at such bargain prices. In this case, as with the others, I have absolutely no reason to feel that the set hasn't been well worth acquiring.