Tchaikovsky: The Symphonies; Manfred
Between 2010 and 2011, Mikhail Pletnev and the Russian National Orchestra recorded the complete symphonies of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky for PentaTone, along with several orchestral pieces that appeared as filler on the separate releases. Now they have been brought together in one box set of seven hybrid SACDs, and the project must be judged a resounding success, not only for the gripping performances of the final three symphonies that everybody knows, but also for the somewhat neglected early symphonies and the programmatic "Manfred Symphony," which has always been a scarce item in complete sets. It's a truism to say that it takes a Russian orchestra to bring out the soul of Tchaikovsky's music, but few performances are more expressive and powerful than Pletnev's passionate interpretations, whether on CD or in the audiophile format. PentaTone's multichannel recording is state of the art, and it captures all the details with remarkable clarity and presence.