Rimsky-Korsakov: Orchestral Suites
BBC Music Magazine
Rimsky Korsakov's gorgeous orchestral colours, here richly played and caught with a vividness arresting even for SACD. Night on Mount Triglav, with its weirdly atmospheric orchestration, is given immense scale by Pletnev.
The Music Scene
Mikhail Pletnev and his thoroughbred Russian National Orchestra offer three superb Rimsky suites in what can be considered definitive accounts... The audio quality quality is demonstration quality and it is a special treat to be able to use the surround sound option to be immersed in the sensuality and boldness of Rimsky's orchestration. Pletnev exploits every nuance of these confections and makes us realize afresh what a unique gifted tune-smith this composer was.
Pletnev delivers these selections with elegance and refinement… providing a lesson in orchestral balance by fully respecting Rimsky-Korsakov's spatial effects. This is an essential rediscovery of this monument of Russian music.
Pletnev and his virtuoso orchestra make a charming sound picture of the Dance of the Birds, woodwind all a-twitter, and leap with plenty of vigour into the single most popular item, the Dance of the Clowns, or Skomorokhi... The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh... is evocatively played and given a suitably spacious recording.
Classical Music Sentinel
This superb Pentatone recording, sonically three-dimensional and with plenty of dynamic headroom, couldn't fit this music any better. From the loudest percussion thumps to the softest pings on the triangle, every subtle orchestral nuance and color is reproduced with sharp focus. And of course, pianist turned conductor Mikhail Pletnev and the Russian National Orchestra eat music like this for breakfast. It's in their blood. The story that unfolds within the music is their story. No wonder they perform this material so well.
An impressive showcase of some of the lesser-known examples of the symphonic orchestration skills of one of its masters. Rimsky-Korsakov was one of the most influential composers of both opera and instrumental music in the history of Russian music. These two four-movement suites and the five selections from his ballet opera Mlada are performed with gusto by Russian players totally imbued with the spirit of the works and recorded in the highest-quality hi-res surround.
Hats off to Pentatone for once again allowing music lovers to hear works that are under-frequented in the world of sound recording.... Mikhail Pletnev grabs us by his constant commitment. The ardor he gives to these pages is astounding and communicative. The shimmering colors of the Russian composer's music sparkle like a thousand fires, and the listener's pleasure is total. The sound recording, with a touch of reverb that reproduces the instruments' tones as if you were there, adds a little something extra in presence that is fascinating. In short, there is no denying: this recording is quite simply jubilatory.
North London News
The pieces here are brimming with glorious music, quite as diverting as the composer's better known pieces, and if more prompting were needed for the hesitant buyer, the astonishingly detailed surround sound is the icing on the cake - the bass response in particular, has a concert hall veracity.
Classical CD Review
Mikhail Pletnev and his superb Russian National Orchestra offer a feast of orchestral music of Rimsky-Korsakov... These recordings were made in the MCO Hilversum studios in January 2009, and Job Maarse and his staff have been highly successful in capturing the rich orchestral textures. An outstanding release!
"Snow Maiden"... [is] quite colorful, evocative, and entertaining, especially under Pletnev's elegant direction.... "Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh"... is quite charming, and Pletnev forges into the third-movement battle scene with relish, concluding the work with a richly embroidered "Funeral" sequence. Finally, saving the best for last, Pletnev gives us... "Night on Mount Triglav"... This suite has an almost Wagnerian scope to it, which Maestro Pletnev is quick to exploit.... The recording...comes up nicely detailed and with a reasonably good depth of field... another fine recording from Pletnev and his players.
Pletnev and the orchestra give a stunning performance... The Polyhymnia engineers have captured all the kaleidoscopic colours of Rimsky-Korsakov's rich orchestral palette in state-of-the-art sound that will delight all audiophiles, and it is to be hoped that Pletnev's vibrant and sympathetic performances will bring this captivating and often resplendent music to a much wider audience.
What's not to like? The music is gorgeously tuneful and atmospheric, the orchestration amazing, the playing excellent, the sonics vibrant. Pletnev's crisp briskness works quite well in music that thrives on rhythmic precision, elegance, and immaculate phrasing. His Dance of the Tumblers has just the right combination of energy and accuracy... An irresistible disc, then, that would grace any collection.