Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1
Pletnev... adopts daringly slow tempi for both the first and second movements that allow him to point up Tchaikovsky's delicious orchestration... [The Scherzo] is performed with a winning lightness and delicacy.... The typically Tchaikovskian waltz of the trio section is quite entrancingly delivered by the RNO strings with added flecks of colour from the wind. The effect is quite captivating....
Pletnev's flexibility with rhythm offers a different interpretation and may seem an arbitrary act by the conductor; yet a careful listening shows that he is seeking to prop up the most dramatic and painful sections, so that in this debut symphony we can see the young Tchaikovsky's seeds of "inconsolable misfortune" that are later expressed in the Fourth to Sixth symphonies... Pletnev is truly faithful to [Tchaikovsky's] work... Marche Slav is absolutely flawless and convincing under Pletnev's baton... The Russian National Orchestra's performance is wonderful. This is a disc that may in some respects surprise lovers of Tchaikovsky's music, but that is a valid and inspiring testimony to Mikhail Pletnev's interpretation.
The adagio opens with gloriously eloquent and noble string playing, showing how cultured the RNO have become in such a short period of time since establishment... The Scherzo is played with great delicacy in these hands... In the finale, [the] virtuosic response of the RNO is thrilling ... the sheer panache of the playing quite takes one's breath away. The encore - and what a magnificently played encore - is the Slavonic March. The timbres of the RNO in the varying orchestration in the main melody are a joy to the ear... it is impossible to overstate how good this music making is...
The performance is Pletnev's best in his PentaTone Tchaikovsky cycle thus far.... The Slavonic March [is] among the best, most exciting interpretations of the work you're likely to hear...
The richly characterful interpretation [Pletnev] offers here firmly attests to the principle that there is something special about a Russian orchestra playing Russian music.
Pletnev's interpretation with the Russian National Orchestra maintains the symphony's narrative arch and poetry... A brilliant performance of Marche Slave rounds out the recording.
Classical CD Review
Mikhail Pletnev continues his Tchaikovsky symphonic cycle with this magnificent issue of Symphony No. 1 coupled with Marche Slave. Delicate and powerful at the same time, this reading of "Winter Daydreams" is among the best, and the familiar Slavic march is played to the hilt. And this is the finest audio yet achieved in this distinguished series, perfectly balanced with rich string sonorities, blazing brass and sizzling percussion. Don't miss this one—I shall return to it often.
...one of the most impressive pieces of recording by Polyhymnia on SACD yet.... [With] the RNO at its technically brilliant best this turns out to be a fine performance and arguably the best of this series so far...