Having been brought up listening to recordings of Tchaikovsky under various venerable conductors who have treated his music in the mega-hyper-Romantic tradition has meant that for me, here is a composer to whom I have never really warmed - good tunes but a touch too much self-indulgence and self-pity to be really healthy! I suspect I am not the only person who finds this side of Tchaikovsky's output a touch annoying....
In a similar vein, as a symphonist, Tchaikovsky had a tendency to compose with one ear on The Ballet. It means that his music has the life force that makes it dance, but as far as the symphonic argument is concerned - the type of logic in a work that makes me prefer the likes of Brahms or Dvorak as contemporary symphonists - Tchaikovsky tended to put less emphasis on this aspect.
Time to listen afresh, then, and Pletnev's recordings are ideal for that purpose. He emphasises the classicism and the light-footed Mendelssohnian side of Tchaikovsky's music, and it is endearing. Rarely does Pletnev really let the self-indulgent side escape - the exception, rightly so, being in the Pathetique - but line and coherent symphonic character are very clear. The music still dances, but it is controlled. The music is allowed to speak for itself. This is still big-band Tchaikovsky, but without the syrup!
In addition to the six numbered symphonies, DGG have included the "seventh" of the canon, Manfred (more a giant symphonic poem than a symphony to me - no harm in that of course), plus virtually all of Tchaikovsky's other works for orchestra (including a fabulously entertaining and vibrant performance of that most hackneyed piece, the 1812 Overture), all in fantastic performances and furnished with top-drawer recorded sound. These have been available on a DGG Trio, and if you have that , sadly that could mean duplication. Oddly, though, the early and atypical Overture in F is not included in this set - it was on the Trio, and could easily have been included here. An oversight on DGG's part?
Listening to this set has made me revisit some of my older recordings, and it has made them sound better! Hearing a fine conductor treat these works as symphonies pure and simple makes one listen for the symphonic in the big "statement" interpretations. Pletnev's recordings have shown me that Tchaikovsky was indeed a fine symphonist, not just a ballet composer who wrote a few big orchestral pieces. So if you don't like Tchaikovsky, give these recordings a go - they might win you over too!