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Manfred Symphonies

Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky Audio CD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 22.95
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Product Details


1. The Tempest Op. 18
2. 1. Lento lugubre- Moderato con moto - Andante
3. 2. Vivace con spirito
4. 3. Andante con moto
5. 4. Allegro con fuoco

Product Description

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Easily the poorest major recording of this work currently available, Mikhail Pletnev's Manfred is shallow, lacking in tension and drama, and played with mechanical precision by a well-drilled, but otherwise undistinguished orchestra. The recording balances the brass and percussion far to the rear, further reducing the impact of what ought to be, by any measure, a shattering experience. A major disappointment by a fine pianist who is failing to make it as a conductor. --David Hurwitz

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Having heard the Russian National Orchestra perform at Carnegie Hall last night, I know I can easily discount again yet another dismal review from Mr. Hurwitz. This young orchestra, founded by Mikhail Pletnev, is truly one of the world's greatest orchestras I thought they sounded better and played with more enthusiasm and precision than the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of its new music director, Sir Simon Rattle, when the Berliners visited New York City's Carnegie Hall last November.). I have not heard Mariss Jansons's electrifying account of the Manfred Symphony, but Pletnev's account has earned a glowing three-star review in the Penguin Guide.
Both performances on this recording are replete with ample brilliance and warmth. The only problems are technical, which is why this fine CD is earning four stars. To my amazement, the recording sounds not well balanced, and at times, distant. I am truly surprised that Deutsche Grammophon would make such a serious error. Yet despite this major error, Pletnev's interpretations are still worth acquiring.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, Gotta Agree with the Disdainer Dec 30 2002
Format:Audio CD
While I think Pletnev is great, this is not the best performance of this piece. I don't even think it's as good as the Maurice Abravenel version with the Utah Symphony. My main complaint is that the tempi are bizarre in places. Sometimes they seem rather quick and in many places, they are drawn out in a dramatic manner that makes you think you are listening to Bernstein do Mahler. This is most troublesome in the second movement where he seems to have things going pretty well then suddenly the tempo slows to a crawl and the whole thing just kind of falls apart.
I would agree with other reviewers here that this piece is one of Tchaikovsky's best and high in the list of great works. Like Mahler's Resurrection, each turn should tick off like a kind of dark, but inevitable clockwork. It doesn't need to be made more dramatic. It combines the insanely wonderful lyricism (as Stravinsky said, Tchaikovsky was non pareil in this realm) with a very modern, machinelike intensity that sounds like the next generation of Russian composers from the 20th Century.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Plus for Pletnev! March 17 2000
By J.C.Liu
Format:Audio CD
Ignoring the disasterous review by Mr. Hurwitz, this recording is in every respect a very fine performance. As for the complaints about the distancing of the brass section etc, I can find no real fault with it other than some minor blurring of details. Jansons on Chandos might have a better measure of this symphony but you can't beat the generous coupling with "The Tempest". This offers over 75 minutes of music and you very seldom find such generosity on a DG disc! The overture is not an exceptional performance but is well-played. Jansons and some others only offer the symphony with no couplings and at full price these single item recordings are proving to be rather unattractive in value. Mr. Hurwitz's statement that Pletnev continues to be a disappointment as a conductor is certainly one of the most naive comments made by any music critic/reviewer. Pletnev's recordings including his wonderful Tchaikovsky Symphony 6 and Sleeping Beauty are testaments to his excellence as a conductor. By the way this recording of Manfred was given a glowing review and a three star rating from the Penguin Guide! This is a highly recommendable recording!
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3.0 out of 5 stars The performance was well-played, but...! Dec 10 1999
Format:Audio CD
By 1868, Mily Alexeyevich Balakirev confronted Hector Berlioz with the idea of writing a musical treatment of Lord Byron's epic poem "Manfred", Berlioz refused due to old age and ill health (he died the next year, in 1869 at 66). Fourteen years later, Balakirev made the same offering to Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky was reluctant at first but decided to write the symphony in four tableaux and began sketching it by 1884, with the schemes provided by Balakirev. Tchaikovsky confessed to his patroness Nadezha Von Meck that "My thoughts have been very gloomy of late. Composing the Manfred symphony, so tragic in character, is so difficult that at times I myself become a Manfred. Still, I am consumed with the desire to finish." Tchaikovsky finished the score by 1885 and the Moscow premiere of the "Manfred" symphony took place on March 23rd, 1886 with success. Tchaikovsky proclaimed this work as his most successful orchestral composition.
I agree with Tchaikovsky's assessment of his masterpiece. With some exceptions to the Pathetique Symphony and his opera "Mazeppa", the Manfred Symphony is that of bold and pure honesty: the work Tchaikovsky expressed both his sympathy and his understanding towards Manfred. Manfred was the man, the hero, who was in the struggle to find inner peace, but continued to suffer from from torments. His memories of his beloved Astarte made matters worst from Manfred. He died, finally in peace and with redemption.
Thus, the Manfred Symphony is Tchaikovsky's autobiography. Therefore, in performing the Manfred Symphony, the greatest of advocacy, intimacy, vividness and passion are the key ingredients needed to carry out its' message.
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