Tchaikovsky: Suite No. 3; Stravinsky: Divertimento

Tchaikovsky: Suite No. 3 in G, Op. 55 (1884)
Stravinsky: Divertimento (1934, rev. 1949)
Ballet Suite from Le baiser de la fée (The Fairy’s Kiss)
Vladimir Jurowski, conductor
DSD recorded
Pentatone SACD
Purchase via RNO Pentatone Music


Classical CD of the Week: The Telegraph, London

Multichannel Disc of the Month, Audiophile Audition (Nov. 2010)


Audiophile Audition

From the first notes, one realizes that not only do Jurowski and his Russian players love this work, but the PentaTone engineering staff has lavished some of its best reproduction ever on this SACD. The violins are clearly spaced left and right, and there is a tremendous depth to the orchestra, not always heard on some SACDs... Tchaikovsky's wonderful melodies shine with great beauty. The playing is again of the highest quality and the sonics at demo level. You can't go wrong with this SACD, even if you already have both works in your collection.

The Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky pairing is such a winning mix of performance, repertory, and sound that I'm tempted to skip the preliminaries and name it my "Blue Note" CD of the year right here and now... I've never heard this music played with more life-affirming swagger and electricity... Jurowski reminds us of just how much fun [Stravinsky’s] music is, how full of surprises. The results are again alternately beguiling and dazzling.... The RNO is a virtuoso ensemble that plays with a winning combination of intensity, delicacy, and tonal beauty... There is a visceral charge, a thrilling sense of presence in the heightened realism and very spacious images these CDs project. At the last note... I kept expecting applause--the performances sounded that vivid and believably live... highly recommended.

… pure delight from start to finish. The Russian National Orchestra, under its Principal Guest Conductor makes a wonderful job of these two colourful and tuneful works. I recommend it unreservedly.

Fanfare magazine

The RNO’s playing [on the Tchaikovsky] is impressive, with the winds deserving special note... Jurowski’s way with [Stravinsky’s] more lyrical material is beautiful... the RNO woodwinds delight, as with the flute and clarinet solos of the closing Pas de deux... The excellent audio quality is what we’ve come to expect from PentaTone...


Vladimir Jurowski... offers performances that are as near-ideal as I can imagine, the electric tension giving the illusion of live music-making. We have had some impressive recordings from this Moscow-based orchestra in the past, notably under Mikhail Pletnev, but this one is among the finest. Jurowski... brings out the surging lyricism [of Tchaikovsky's Third Suite]... The Variations have rarely seemed so attractive in their breadth of ideas, with a thrilling build-up and conclusion. [This] disc cannot be recommended too highly.

The Independent, London

Listen to the opening moments of Tchaikovsky's third orchestral suite, under Vladimir Jurowski, and significant virtues immediately register. A sensitive, colour-conscious ear; balanced melody and countermelody; a breathing way with the musical phrase; and the Russian National Orchestra marshalled for some unanimous, expressive playing. It's taut, exciting - and what a piece... played with fire and precision... The Fairy's Kiss [displays] fine-tipped detail and fleet execution. Both works are luminously recorded.

International Record Review

The Valse melancolique is finely drawn and the third-movement Scherzo wonderfully lithe and light, demonstrating the superb articulation of the woodwinds. There's warmth and understanding as well as brilliance in the Theme and Variations, with the orchestra again on top form, deft and rhythmically alert. Its trademark, antiphonally placed violins sound lean, never thin... The culminating Polacca Variation works up a terrific head of steam... as viscerally exciting as one might wish, yet always musical, the notes never overwhelmed by the percussive effects. ... this may just be [PentaTone's] freshest, most charismatic offering to date.

Radio 3 (London)

An aural delight. Vladimir Jurowski and the Russian National Orchestra bring poise and elegance and a little Russian humour to [the Stravinsky]... an excellent recording.

The Telegraph (London)

The playing is superb, with Jurowski recognising the power of Tchaikovsky's music in his Third Suite to transcend its balletic material in search of symphonic coherence. His Stravinsky, too, captures the music's wit and ingenuity. The two composers' styles might suggest an incongruous marriage, but such is Stravinsky's skill that they complement each other with charismatic allure. Pentatone's recorded sound is rich and detailed, just what is required for this sumptuously scored music.

Vladimir Jurowski lends intelligence, a keen ear and a generous heart to both works here... [In Tchaikovsky's Suite] the eloquent melodies [are] moulded with affection... and spiced by pungent-sounding and decorous woodwinds... Anyone unfamiliar with Tchaikovsky’s endearing Suite can start here with confidence. ... Jurowski’s view of The Fairy’s Kiss... balances pathos and poise, is lightly turned and lucidly balanced, and gives much pleasure. Indeed Stravinsky’s wit, feeling and cleverness (the right sort!) is ideal for Jurowski, and he has set down a version of the ‘suite’ that is a joy from start to finish... In short, this is a discerning production for discerning listeners.

The Sunday Times

For his RNO debut recording, Jurowski pairs two Cinderella works by their respective composers. ... The performances are a consistent delight, and Jurowski is proving himself one of the rising podium stars...

The Times (London)

The soulful note in the opening sighs of Tchaikovsky’s Suite No 3 tells us immediately that we’re in Russian hands. The brilliant Jurowski secures refined but characterful playing from the Russian National Orchestra, backed up with the usual PentaTone recording finesse. Even played on conventional equipment, this SACD sounds superb. Jurowski's theatrical sense is on equal display in its intelligently chosen companion, Stravinsky’ s divertimento from the Tchaikovsky-inspired La Baiser de la fée. A delightful disc.

It is a real coup for Pentatone to have added Vladimir Jurowski to their growing roster of first-rate artists. At 33, he is already a truly charismatic conductor as these superb performances testify... The Suite opens with an Elégie, ravishingly played by the Russian National Orchestra with subtle changes of pace and dynamics all captured to perfection within the clean and spacious recorded sound... The restless yearning quality of the Valse mélancolique that follows is perfectly captured by Jurowski, who avoids any heaviness with his judicious choice of tempo... The Finale... is a tour de force. The variations are well contrasted and each is a gem in its own right, giving every section of the orchestra the opportunity to shine. I must mention the lovely cor anglais playing in Variation 8 and the Concert master Sergey Galaktionov’s violin solo in Variation 10. ... The twenty-four minute concert suite Stravinsky extracted from his ballet is also a delight... The whole of this SACD is recorded with a clarity and richness that is outstanding, even by Pentatone’s high standards, and, as usual with this label, the rear surround channels never draw attention to themselves, but provide an extra sense of realism by subtly capturing the acoustic signature of the recording venue. This is a disc not to be missed.

Even by the high standards set by PentaTone, this is special. A wonderful disc in all respects. The performance of Tchaikovsky´s third suite outshines all competition. Maazel, Tilson Thomas, Boult, all are put in the shade by this new recording. The Orchestra plays with warmth and affection, really caressing the phrases.... Jurowski finds a perfect balance between the rhythmic, the melodic and the elegiac in this score. As well as the moments of sheer joy. The violins are placed left and right as is to be desired. It makes for some exciting and delicate interplay in the Scherzo of the Tchaikovsky. The sound itself is absolutely stunning, as I said, even by the high PentaTone standards. A good front to back perspective, a fair amount of air around the instruments and the room is tangible indeed. A demonstration record if there ever was one, and a lesson for many record companies to follow.... This is my SACD of the year and a desert island disc. Please Pentaman, can we have Manfred from these forces, pleeease?

What They’re Saying

"I saw the greatest orchestra in the world play Friday night. If you think that's hyperbole, ask anyone who was in Yardley Hall that night. The Russian National Orchestra is the Rolls-Royce of orchestras, no ordinary ensemble."

The Kansas City Star