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.
On the face of it, this live double-album is an expert genuflection to jazz-rock fusion, with five guitarists and a crop of punchy drummers (including Return to Forever's Lenny White and percussion virtuoso Zakir Hussain) to confirm it. But the playing of the seven bands is anything but predictable. The members sit in with each other here, and their embrace of risk and the pleasure they take in spontaneous performance are palpable. John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension have Hussain sit in for usual drummer Ranjit Barot in two fiercely vivacious pieces, including an infectious, choppy, 20-minute Hussein showcase, Mother Tongues. Barot leads a violin-dominated Indian-inflected sextet featuring the New York guitar maverick Wayne Krantz as a guest; Krantz also appears with an edgy avant-fusion trio. The chord-crunching, metal-inspired guitarist Alex Machacek opens proceedings with a fast-moving group extensively featuring electric bassist Neal Fountain.