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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.
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on 14 October 2011
Tchaikovsky finally receives the Brilliant Classics treatment. The packaging is in line with the recently up-dated Mozart, Bach and Beethoven editions. The 60 CD's (+ CD-Rom) are housed in the usual cardboard sleeves, but with a new high-gloss finish. I haven't had a chance to explore to all 60 CD's but from the few that I've sampled the recording quality and performances are pretty much consistent. Though not a "Complete Edition" it is quite comprehensive. (Five different recordings of the First Piano Concerto alone!). All are interesting in the comparative sense (but I won't be tossing Peter Donahoe's set on EMI any time soon). Which begs the question: Is this set worth acquiring for classical connoisseurs who have previously devoted serious self space to Tchaikovsky? Definitely yes! In short, it's a bargain. Could a PROKOFIEV set be next on Brilliant's agenda? ... Well, I can dream can't I??
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on 17 November 2011
I received my Tchaikovsky (or Chaikovsky as Richard Taruskin would prefer) Edition a few weeks ago. I bought it principally for the rarely recorded operas ("The Oprichnik", "The Enchantress" and "The Maid of Orleans" for example) since, other than "Eugene Onegin" and "The Queen of Spades", today's record companies are disgracefully wilful in ignoring the other operas of this important composer.Thank goodness incidentally that the days when the received wisdom about Tchaikovsky (sorry Prof Taruskin)was that he was not really a serious composer (an attitude quite possibly born out of homophobia)- my music teacher at school actually told me that I would 'grow out' of my regard for his works . Now that I know many more of his compositions than I did then, he has only risen in my esteem. It is important to note that Tchaikovsky significantly viewed himself as predominantly a composer for the stage for, in addition to the operas, are the three great ballets and incidental music for Hamlet (given a poor recording here) and The Snow Maiden.

By and large, the non-operatic recordings are fine with the disastrous exception of the Piano Trio. This was recorded in 1948 and which, despite including David Oistrakh, sounds every one of its 63 years. Why a decent modern recording could not have been found for this important work and the included version relegated to the "Historical Recordings" category, is a mystery. The other chamber works, namely the quartets and the Souvenir string sextet are fine as is the piano music performed by Michael Ponti. I have always been a bit guarded about this pianist, having heard him play live in Singapore and also on his recordings of the Scriabin Sonatas - on both occasions I was treated to far more notes than I had paid for. But his performances here are wholly adequate. I'm not a great fan of the songs, particularly when swung by a soprano (as here, although her wobble-coefficient is not too high). I once had a couple of discs of the songs sung by the great Russian baritone Sergei Leiferkus which were an absolute joy but which seem to have mysteriously disappeared from the catalogue.

One of the biggest disappointment however is the absence of any librettos to the operas - surely room could have been found for them on the CD-ROM or, failing that, the dedicated website that Brilliant Classics has for librettos to the operas it issues where there is no room for (or, at Brilliant prices, they can't afford) the libretto in the box (e.g. Purcell's King Arthur). In my view it is only possible to get a true appreciation of what's really going on in an opera that you don't know if you have the libretto in front of you. It also has to be said that some of the opera recordings would more appropriately be included in the "Historical" category. That for "The Maid" is 65 years old (I know this because it dates from the year of my birth and I know how old I am).

So, very much a curates egg then. If you feel that the glaring deficiencies in the recordings of some of the operas can be ignored on the grounds that having any recording of say "The Maid" however bad is better than no recording at all then fine. But on balance, the lack of any librettos does not enable me to recommend this box
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on 30 January 2015
Great edition of great music.
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on 6 July 2013
It's presumably got all his works, and was bought to be a base collection from which to work, which it does. From there I can go and get 'great works' by different conductors and orchestra's. Different works put together on cd's, and a bit mixed up. There are old recordings (poor quality) and repeats (PC1). Having said that, I am glad I have it as a base.
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on 21 December 2014
Delivered as promised
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on 19 February 2013
It's the sum mum of romantic music. Richness, variety and colors of musical instruments. Nice melodies, rhythmic variety. So inventive, so clever.
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on 10 April 2013
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on 24 December 2013
It's sorrowfully: old records (1953, 1958, etc.), abridged versions of some works, not very good sound. It is unfortunate that the product description does not specify such features of this collection. I'm very disappointed.
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