Tchaikovsky: Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty, op.66
Mikhail Pletnev, conductor
DG 457 634-2
Purchase via RNO


Gramophone Magazine

... That Pletnev knows and loves this score was already obvious from his own piano arrangements of parts of it, and their recordings ... . And if ever proof was needed of the pianist's ability to transfer completely intact to the orchestra his own special brand of fantasy and superfine articulacy, this is it. Hardly a minute passes without one's ear being enchanted by an affective gesture of the utmost precision, poise and sensitivity (all the various solos are superbly done)... .
If you need convincing, try the last ten minutes of Act 2 — a symphonic impression of the 100-year sleep, owing not a little to Wagner in its methods and to something of the magical workings of Tchaikovsky's own sea music for The Tempest - and ask yourself if you have ever heard it as atmospherically shaded; the subtle glints of Tchaikovsky's wonderful orchestration as well caught; or the transition from static contemplation, through the kiss, to genuinely joyful activity, as well-gauged. A very special combination of all the right choices made as regards dynamics, tempo and differentiation of mood and, like so much else in this performance, a scene whose potential I cannot recall having been as fully realized as it is here.
... The DG sound for Pletnev is as vibrant as you could wish, with deeper perspectives and a superbly managed ambience, with the magical scenes bathed in the appropriate enchanted halo, yet the textures kept clear in the active, louder sections of the score.

BBC Music Magazine

Pletnev and his Russian National Orchestra present a brilliantly high-flying account, keenly responsive to the music's symphonicism and poetics.... an elegantly virtuoso performance that grows in stature on repeated listening. Pletnev's concern for detail, balance and timbre is impeccable, with tight discipline, Technicolor articulation and subtle timing very much the order of the day... Pletnev's climatic view, his rejection of gratuitous histrionics or sentimentality, and the superlative involvement of his players, is of a special order... The Act III variations quite take the breath away.

Fanfare Magazine

... A fine performance of Tchaikovsky's ballet score. ... The orchestra plays with considerable expression, precision, rhythmic vitality, and dynamic range. ... It actually sounds as if the producer set up a few mikes in front of the orchestra and merely rolled the tapes—the recording doesn't sound "produced." ... Anyone who purchases this "new" Pletnev recording will be getting a high-quality Sleeping Beauty.

What an absolutely stunning pair of discs! Never have I heard such Tchaikovsky on disc. Pletnev's feel for the Tchaikovsky ballets is well known to those who know his miraculous piano transcriptions of extracts from both The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty, but even they will be knocked out by these discs. The feel for the idiom is unerring, the playing is marvellous and the DG engineers have really come to terms with the acoustics of the Great Hall of the Moscow State Conservatory. ? On the best sound system I used to listen to these discs, the sound was rivetting. The dynamic range is huge, but still domestically believable, and the whole is immensely involving.

What They’re Saying

"To present American and Russian musicians performing and teaching together at Festival Napa precisely the kind of effort that sustains vital cultural a critical time for both societies. [This] resonates with the public [and] is meaningful for the musician participants...Cultural diplomacy and music offer alternatives to contention and sustain important linkages between our societies for the long run...Now more than ever we need viable citizen-to-citizen points of contact and dialogue."

James F. Collins (Ambassador Ret.)

Senior Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace