Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tchaikovsky: 18 Pieces For Solo Piano

"Mikhail Pletnev has always shown tremendous sympathy for the music of Tchaikovsky: as a conductor he's made some very fine symphonic recordings, but it's the pianist Pletnev whose devotion to the composer's cause is most gratifying. He plays these rarely encountered works with his customary flair, imbuing every note with real passion and understanding. In the course of this live Zurich recording, Pletnev brings these 18 miniatures vividly to life." --Gramophone

Gramophone Magazine
Editor's Choice - July 2005

Penguin Guide
Rosette Winner

BBC Music Magazine
Instrumental Choice - July 2005

“Mikhail Pletnev's persuasive 1986 recording of Tchaikovsky's 18 Morceaux for Melodiya was unfortunately hampered by strident sound and an ill-tuned piano. Happily, a state-of-the-art situation prevails in this new live recording for Deutsche Grammophon, extending, of course, to Pletnev's own contributions. His caring, characterful and technically transcendent way with this cycle casts each piece in a three-dimensional perspective that honours the composer's letter and spirit beyond the music's 'salon' reputation, while making the most of its pianistic potential. The results are revelatory, akin to, say, Ignaz Friedman's illuminating re-creations of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words.

The Fifth Morceau, 'Meditation', demonstrates the Pletnev-Tchaikovsky chemistry at its most sublime. The melodies are firmly projected yet flexibly arched over the bar-lines, as if emerging from different instruments, culminating in a febrile central climax that gently dissipates into some of the most ravishing trills on record. In No 8, 'Dialogue', Pletnev elevates Tchaikovsky's quasi parlando with the type of off-hand skill and pinpoint timing of a master actor who knows just which lines to throw away.

Note, too, the deliciously pointed scales and music-box colorations in No 13, 'Echo rustique'.
Shades of Liszt's Third Liebestraum seep into No 14, 'Chant élégiaque', in what amounts to a masterclass in how to sustain long melodies against sweeping accompaniments. A stricter basic pulse throughout No-9, 'Un poco di Schumann', might have made the dotted rhythms and two strategically placed ritenutos more obviously Schumannesque, yet there's no denying the inner logic the looser treatment communicates.

There's extraordinary virtuosity behind the musical insights. For example, the interlocking octaves in the coda to No-7, 'Polacca de concert', are unleashed with Horowitz- like ferocity and not a trace of banging. The rapid, vertigoinducing triplet runs in No 10, 'Scherzo- fantaisie', could scarcely be more even and controlled.

Pletnev is all over the final, unbuttoned trepak in grand style, and he certainly makes the glissandos swing. A fresh, unfettered account of Chopin's C sharp minor Nocturne is offered as an encore to this urgently recommended recital.” --Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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