Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6, Capriccio Italien - Pletnev
PentaTone Classics PTC 5186386
Classical - Orchestral
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B minor Op. 74 "Pathétique", Capriccio Italien Op. 45
Russian National Orchestra
Mikhail Pletnev (conductor)
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Review by Graham Williams - October 8, 2011
The re-visiting of the Tchaikovsky symphonies by Mikhail Pletnev and the Russian National Orchestra gets better with each issue of this new cycle, and this coupling of the ‘Pathétique’ and ‘Capriccio Italien’ should be very high on anyone’s audition short-list of desirable versions of these ever-popular war-horses.
This is the third time that Pletnev and the orchestra that he founded have recorded Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony and there is no doubt Pletnev’s interpretation of it has changed and deepened considerably since his first recording in 1991 - youthful spontaneity perhaps now giving way to more thoughtful experience.
At the start of the first movement Pletnev’s opening ‘Adagio’ is dark and intense, the pauses between the statements of the bassoon theme given their full weight and import. The section that follows is light and urgent and when the familiar ‘big tune’ is reached Pletnev phrases it with an unforced grace and elegance that is most convincing. Though not in any sense lacking passion it frees the melody from some of the over-emotional, not to say sentimental, baggage with which it has sometimes been saddled. The main allegro, taken at a very fast pace, is riveting and Pletnev racks up the tension and excitement most effectively before reaching the movement’s climax where the baleful Russian brass and thundering timpani are allowed to make maximum effect.
The balletic insouciance of the second movement’s limping and wistful 5/4 waltz is in stark contrast to the march that follows. Pletnev begins the movement at a bouncy and rapid tempo that seems perfectly matched to Tchaikovsky’s marking of ‘Allegro molto vivace’. Though some might find the pace just too fast it is one of the most exhilarating accounts that I have heard for some time. The concluding ‘Adagio lamentoso’has all the poignant intensity and sense of despair lacking in Pletnev’s two earlier recordings of this symphony. Throughout the RNO respond to Pletnev’s direction with idiomatic playing of great character, and though there are a couple of less than secure moments - for example the stopped horn passages towards the end of the finale - overall the execution is very fine.
It almost goes without saying that the recording quality on this PentaTone issue is of the highest standard. Erdo Groot and the Polyhymnia team have once again produced a sound picture of outstanding realism and richness The multi channel recording is firm and clearly etched ensuring that aural details such as Pletnev’s antiphonal seating of the violins make their mark.
The disc is completed by a genial performance of ‘Capriccio Italien’ that captures the Mediterranean warmth of the music while Tchaikovsky’s iridescent orchestration emerges with burnished tone, thanks once again to the magnificence of the recorded sound.
Highly recommended to all in tune with the style of Pletnev’s interpretations.
Copyright © 2011 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net