Tchaikovsky: Violin and Piano Concertos

Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto (Christian Tetzlaff, soloist)
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 (Nikolai Lugansky, soloist)
Kent Nagano, conductor

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Audiophile Audition

Alternately spitfire and grand readings of two Tchaikovsky staples, with Kent Nagano leading the Russian National Orchestra... Tetzlaff applies his take-no-prisoners pyrotechnics to the Tchaikovsky D Major Concerto.  A rendition of singular focus and poised dynamics...

"If Tetzlaff and Nagano apply the afterburners for the Violin Concerto, Lugansky and Nagano take the dreamscape for their model of the Piano Concerto [with] bursts of fiery passion.... As for Nagano, he has the explosive temperament of Karajan and a warmer sound. His urging of brass and tympani, then the subito to the winds and strings under the keyboard part is quite impressive. Lugansky may well be the natural successor to Lazar Berman, the perfect combination of muscle and poetry, athleticism and polished lyricism.

Classics Today

These are very fine performances, realistically recorded in multichannel sound... [In] the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto... we have a sensitively sung, never sticky Canzonetta and a remarkably cleanly played finale that catches the dance rhythms with total success and without any suggestion of vulgarity.

"[The] same qualities also apply to Nikolai Lugansky's rendering of the Piano Concerto No. 1.... there's plenty of gracefulness in the Andantino and vigor in the finale--and the first movement holds together about as well as anywhere. Lugansky's cultivated tone gives the music a welcome Romantic sheen without the pianist ever feeling a need to twist a phrase like taffy to make points... there's a sense of ease and geniality about the performance that I like very much.

"Kent Nagano and the Russian National Orchestra accompany with enthusiasm and sensitivity.

AV Guide

Absolute perfection... The sound beauty of this recording is remarkable... There is no other orchestra in the world more suitable for this music.


These are stimulating versions of two favorite concertos, which take a fresh interpretative approach... [In the piano concerto] the conception is spacious, with pianist and conductor taking time to relish the music's puissance. The famous opening is broad and weighty. Then, although the first subject of the allegro has a vividly Russian rhythmic character, in both the exposition and recapitulation much is made of the beauty of lyrical secondary material and the Romantic link with Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet. The huge cadenza is not played with the usual impetuous thrust; instead its detail is relished. The following central Andantino, introduced delectably by the flute, is played by Lugansky with exquisite delicacy, followed by a scintillating central scherzando. The finale bursts forth with irrepressible dash and virtuosity, the orchestral players surging into their tuttis with abandon. But Nagano introduces the great secondary melody quite wistfully, and Tchaikovsky's songfulness is never submerged. When, near the close, the theme reappears,... Nagano broadens the tempo massively, to make a hugely positive climax [that] would certainly bring down the house in concert.

"Tchaikovsky's friendly opening for his Violin Concerto... is shaped by Nagano in a mood of disarming simplicity, and Christian Tetzlaff's beguiling introduction of the two main themes is invested with a natural lyrical warmth... Tetzlaff's playing throughout is almost unbelievably polished and secure... Altogether a fascinating coupling well worth exploring.

BBC Music Magazine

Tetzlaff unfolds the lyric argument of the Violin Concerto like one sustained improvisation, displaying flexible control of the development's double-stopping and a purposefully non-showy cadenza. [Lugansky] is a pianist capable of the most wistful refinement; the first movement's lyric goal swims poetically into sight and the scherzo-fantasy at the heart of the central Andantino flashes past with every note beautifully placed. The exciting codas of the outer movements, too, are every inch as effective as Tchaikovsky intended.

Pentatone's coupling of Tchaikovsky's two most popular concertos is a winner. First of all, the sound is absolutely first-rate... The sonic picture is bold and big, with solo instruments perfectly balanced against the orchestra...

Audio Asylum

...conducted by none other than Kent Nagano [with] the fabulous Russian National Orchestra... The orchestral playing is typically East European with pungent winds and earthy passionate string playing, but very heavily tempered and disciplined by a more Western sensibility. Best of both worlds?!... The sound is clear and agile, yet marvellously weighty. [This] recording clearly sounds more sincere and wonderfully performed with technical assurance, compared to the sterile sounding current recordings from more prestigious labels. Highly recommended.

What They’re Saying

"[The] American-Russian Festival Orchestra, featuring distinguished players from the Russian National Orchestra and a number of prominent American orchestras...[conveys] a vital message to our participants and observers, that by working together we can share our musical and historical cultures and increase our understanding of one another."

Athena T. Blackburn

Founding board member, Festival Napa Valley