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on 28 January 2009
Fantastic music, superb performances and excellent sound. The govt should issue every music department in every school in the country with a free copy of this CD (along with another DG Originals classic - the Karajan/BPO disc of La Mer/Pictures at an Exhibition/Bolero, and lots of Sibelius & Shostakovich) in order to demonstrate to kids how exciting classical music can be.

Tchaikovsky's ballet suites are endlessly inventive musically and are packed with great melodic ideas, fantastic orchestration and, well, wonderfull tunes. Personally, I much prefer the composer in this kind of exuberant mood than in his supposedly more serious symphonic works.

It's a pity that the Rostropovich/BPO combo never recorded the full scores of any of these works, because after hearing the three suites on this CD you'll want to hear Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker in full.

Incidentally, by DG Originals standards this is not a particularly old recording - it's from 1978. Accordingly the sound quality is first rate and much better than most current digital recordings.

An iconic CD that you should not be without (even if, like me, you were once idiotic enough to sneer at Tchaikovsky. D'oh!).

Anyway, if you want a CD of Tchaikovsky's ballet suites (and why on earth wouldn't you?) then this is simply in a class of its own.
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VINE VOICEon 28 September 2013
It's rare to have a single-conductor disc of the Tchaikovsky ballet suites where the three suites were recorded at about the same time. Karajan's three Tchaikovsky ballet suite recordings, on EMI, Decca and DG, come to mind, as does this DG offering from Rostropovich and the Berliners. In any case such single discs can be very helpful to beginners and newcomers to this music.

While soaking in the Tchaikovsky ballet scores earlier this year I listened to this DG Rostropovich offering. It is justly revered and has its strengths. Even so I have had doubts about some of the interpretive choices that Rostropovich took when conducting these suites, especially concerning ritardandos in between periods of bars.

First I will discuss the strengths of this recording.

Rostropovich catches the mood of each excerpt very nicely and elicits strong, full-toned and well-phrased playing from the string section. It's understandable because Rostropovich, as the producer recalls in the booklet notes, gave tips to the entire string section on tone and phrasing, and not just the cellos. The strings have a particularly rich tone in the big melodies, especially in the big waltzes. I especially like the Rose Adagio, the Panorama and the second part of the Swan Theme when the strings take over the famous oboe tune. There is panache, fire and brilliance in the Slavic sections and in loud passages such as climaxes. Examples of this are in the Hungarian Czardas and the Russian Trepak from the Nutcracker, and the climaxes of the big waltzes.

Yet when I listen to this disc I note a few caveats. I know they are enough for me to deduct one star from my rating but this does not affect my overall impressions.

I am bothered by the fact that in between the "periods" Rostropovich slows down before starting up again. This tends to disrupt the flow of the music. I notice this the most in the Nutcracker Suite. I am bothered by this in the Sugar Plum Fairy and Mirlitons sections and the Waltz of the Flowers after the first clarinet solos in the middle of Theme A. Occasionally, the tempo tends to become stodgy and lacking in suppleness, for instance in the Arabian Dance. Also, I notice that the recording quality is not as good as it should be. The sound stage sounds narrow and does not exactly allow the sound to spread evenly. At least there is no congestion in the sound (as in the Gergiev recording of Swan Lake) and the instruments are well defined.

I know that I'm partial to the DG offering of these suites by Levine and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Even so, you can't go wrong with this Rostropovich offering of the Tchaikovsky ballet suites. It's still a worthy single-disc sampler of these three great scores, especially at mid price.
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on 11 October 2007
One might have thought that the Ballet suites have been recorded too many times, for anyone to get excited about 'another' recording! In truth these are fabulous performances, with inner detail that I have to say I haven't heard in any other recordings! At an incredibly low price, I urge anyone thinking of buying a recording of the suites to look no further.
A superb cellist and wonderful conductor, golly how we will miss him!
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on 3 March 2013
Not sure what the problem is that some people are perceiving here. The volumes reflects the sound levels you can expect at a live concert where volumes are not "normalized" or adjusted so that all are at the same level. They are dynamic with great crescendos rising from a quiet and peaceful passage of the music and this recording accurately recreate a live concert. A full orchestra is a very powerful sound source; a single instrument less so. I think this is a beautiful recording.
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on 17 January 2013
What a great way to introduce young children to the music of famous Ballets. We listen to a random track at bed time with my three year old - after having watched the Barbie adaptions of Swan Lake and the Nutcracker (which I must say are surprisingly enjoyable!). We have now been to see a full Swan Lake at the theater and an adapted children's version of the Nut Cracker and the familiarity of the music really brought them to life!
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on 18 February 2014
One of the intrinsic problems with recording ballet music is that it tends to be fitted to musical performance without regard to the demands of the dancers. This means that one has to make different allowances for tempi and style when the music is heard out of the context for which it was written. These excerpts I found a bit over-dramatic in places, and sometimes very loud - maybe the remastering has something to do with this? Otherwise a colourful performance in a traditional style which it is good to have.
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on 2 April 2014
The grandchildren are now into classics and ballet. This disc performance is better I think than others I have listened to with sense and power to the music. The children and I love it, I had to buy a second disc for myself! Can recommend this disc, a good price and performance.
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on 2 May 2013
Great excerpts from the full Ballet Music of Tchaikovsky.
A wonderful gift for somebody who likes both Ballet and
Tchaikovsky as a taster for the ech of the full pieces of Music !
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on 20 September 2017
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on 6 January 2017
Good quality CD delivered quickly.
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