Igor Markevitch's Tchaikovsky performances have been among the best since the early '60s. He turned the unruly London Symphony Orchestra into a first-rate Tchaikovsky ensemble, in which a finely disciplined approach to rhythm provides the perfect foundation for some highly expressive music-making.
Deutsche Grammophon's 2010 reissue of Mikhail Pletnev's recordings of the symphonies and major orchestral works of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky is a seven-disc trimline box set that presents the music in a logical fashion and meets expectations of what this admired conductor can do. Pletnev leads the Russian National Orchestra with confidence and clearheaded thinking, and his interpretations of Tchaikovsky definitely lean to the rational side of Romanticism: as passionate and emotional as the works are in the public imagination, Pletnev always remembers that Tchaikovsky was at heart a classicist, so he is careful not to neglect the formal concerns and gracefulness of melody that are the soul of the music.
n these days of big boxes, DG really ought to gather together everything Markevitch did and issue it as a set. He was a genius, and his recordings with the Lamoureux Orchestra, especially, combine interpretive brilliance with a classic French instrumental style that no longer exists. They are irreplaceable, and the playing here is amazing. Rimsky-Korsakov’s music demands just the sort of diamond-like precision and clarity that was Markevitch’s stock in trade as a conductor. There are more raucous, more traditionally Russian versions of The Golden Cockerel Suite available (Järvi’s for example), but none that point up the music’s anticipations of Stravinsky so compellingly. Both here and in the May Night Overture, Rimsky-Korsakov becomes a prophetically modern master.
Felix Mendelssohn (Composer), Pyotr Tchaikovsky (Composer), Franz Schubert (Composer), Georges Auric (Composer), Igor Markevitch (Conductor), Japan Philharmonic Orchestra (Orchestra)
If what you want is a crackerjack coupling of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto and his First Piano Concerto, this disc is the one to get. With the ardently noble 1971 Nathan Milstein recording of the Violin Concerto with Claudio Abbado conducting the Vienna Philharmonic joined to the recklessly passionate 1973 Martha Argerich recording of the Piano Concerto with Charles Dutoit conducting the Royal Philharmonic, both performances are easily as good as the very best ever recorded.
P. I. Tchaikovsky is considered to be Russia’s great symphonic composer. In his music he achieved a synthesis of the national musical language of Russia and the compositional forms of the western European Romantics. His most famous ballets enjoy a position of honor in the Classical Ballet repertoire on account of their melodic intensity and instrumental brilliance. In the fairy tale “The Nutcracker and the King of the Mice” written by the German Romantic E. T. A. Hoffmann and published in 1814, on which Tchaikovsky’s ballet is based, Christmas provides the realistic setting for a fantastic plot. Fiction and reality are woven together by means of strange and wondrous occurrences to produce a fascinating and unfathomable labyrinth. Both Hoffmann and Tchaikovsky, who began to compose the ballet in his fiftieth year, could identify with the literary figure of the watchmaker Drosselmeier, who gives order to his life through his work. In 1999, exactly 107 years – to the day – after the first performance in St. Petersburg, Patrice Bart’s choreography of Tchaikovsky’s worldwide success The Nutcracker was premiered at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin. Bart placed a prologue before the ballet in which Marie is abducted as a child and in which everything is placed in a modern context.
This well recorded disc from 1985 delivers impressive readings of both of these works. Mullova takes a very individual view of these concertos and has the technical assurance to communicate her view with compelling certainty.
The Tchaikovsky concerto is played in the full uncut version that was written by the composer. This is now becoming more common but in 1985 was still unusual enough to warrant comment. By playing the notes as Tchaikovsky had intended Mullova signals a very serious intent which she carries out throughout these two concertos.
This version of The Queen of Spades was originally recorded in 1974 and made available as a special import; it was then generally released by Philips in 1988. Reviewing it at the time, AB gave a level account of its strengths, but had little difficulty in preferring the Tchakarov set when it was issued in 1990. Deleted by Philips, the Ermler performance has now been restored to the Melodiya catalogue. I cannot see anyone dissenting from AB's view: certainly I do not, except perhaps to regard him as being over-generous in his account of Atlantov's Herman in calling it ''loud and unsubtle''. Stronger words would also be appropriate, especially when Atlantov is compared with the sensitive Wieslaw Ochman on the Tchakarov set. Valentina Levko is a good Countess in what is a well-established Russian tradition of responses to the role: AB thought the old lady's reminiscences not so pointedly delivered as by some other singers, and I would add that she would certainly have acquired a better French accent during her long sojourn as the Venus of Paris.
The String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Opus 11, was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's first completed string quartet of three string quartets, published during his lifetime. (An earlier attempt had been abandoned after the first movement had been completed.) Composed in February 1871, it was premiered in Moscow on 16/28 March 1871 by four members of the Russian Musical Society: Ferdinand Laub and Ludvig Minkus, violins; Pryanishnikov, viola; and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, cello.