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Tchaikovsky Edition [60 CDs + CD-ROM]

Tchaikovsky / London Sym Orch / Rozhdestvevnsky
Release Date: 09/27/2011 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 93980  
Composer:  Peter Ilyich TchaikovskyLudwig van BeethovenJohannes Brahms
Performer:  Maurice GendronAlexander RudinRod ElmsNatalia Erasova,   ... 
Conductor:  Vladimir FedoseyevErnest AnsermetNikolai AlexeevYuri Simonov,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Radio Symphony OrchestraSuisse Romande OrchestraMusica Viva Instrumental Ensemble,   ... 
Number of Discs: 60 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A comprehensive survey of Tchaikovsky’s output, spanning 60 CDs with a CD-ROM containing comprehensive booklet notes and sung texts.

This set also contains historical recordings from great interpreters including Ernest Ansermet in performances of the 6th Symphony and the three great ballets. Byron Janis plays the 1st Piano Concerto, Shura Cherkassky in the 2nd, and Michael Ponti in the Taneyev reconstruction of the 3rd concerto. The Oistrakh Trio perform the Piano Trio, The 1st concerto again in performances by Lev Oborin and Emil Gilels, Sviatoslav Richter and Yevgeny Kissin. Leonid Kogan and David Oistrakh can be heard in the Violin Concerto.

In addition to these fascinating documents, the 6 symphonies, all the
Read more chamber music, songs and piano works can be heard in modern recordings.The operas are presented in historical Russian recordings from the Bolshoi with some great Russian voices of the 20th century.

• A high voltage set capturing the inner passion of the Russian soul, from the light-footed ballets to the tormented Pathetique, from a delicate song to the explosions of Overture 1812, including: the complete symphonies, complete concertos, complete ballets, complete suites, complete piano works, complete string quartets, complete songs, 8 operas (sung in Russian, by Russian singers).

• Includes performances of legendary Russian artists, such as Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, David Oistrakh, Leonid Kogan, Evgeny Kissin, and conductors Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Evgeny Mravinsky, Yuri Simonov, Vladimir Fedoseyev.

• Includes rare historical recordings of great collector’s value.
• Complete Symphonies
• Complete Concertos
• Complete Ballets
• Complete Suites
• Complete Piano Works
• Complete String Quartets
• Complete Songs
• 8 Operas (sung in Russian, by Russian singers)

R E V I E W:

The harvest of a lifetime that encompassed only 53 years. Has wide appeal that will educate, surprise and delight time after time.

Introduction

The present review is based on a scamper and skim across sixty CDs and several thousand tracks. That would have been some 66 hours and 45 minutes of music if I had listened to everything. I have not listened to everything and many of these works I have track-sampled rather than heard right through. I have added to this sampling some prior knowledge of earlier versions of these recordings.

My first Tchaikovsky memories include discovering the Fourth Symphony when it was used as incidental music to BBCTV’s 1968 children’s adaptation of Ivanhoe. Then there was that morning in my teens when I heard on Radio 3 the EMI LP of Alexis Weissenberg in Piano Concerto No. 1. George Hurst conducting the complete Nutcracker at Paignton’s seafront Festival Theatre also made its impact as did listening to a friend’s Philips LPs of Igor Markevitch’s Tchaikovsky symphonies. His works have formed a central spar in my discovery and appreciation of classical music. The discovery phase is by no means over.

Commerce and art must strike a deal. Compromise is the inevitable outcome. In fact commerce has done little harm here and much good. Brilliant started with recordings they have had under licence for years though even so there are newcomers here. Fresh deals with Sony, Naxos, Preiser, Archipel and Relief are apparent in the operas, songs, piano music and some of the orchestral music. For the price of between 8 and 10 premium discs you can take a grand tour of the Tchaikovsky legacy or most of it. I have seen this set listed on Amazon Marketplace at well less than £1 per disc but I cannot think of a comparison collection at any price. You can say the same of Brilliant’s Strauss Edition and also of their Rachmaninov box (9071). The Dutch company have cornered this particular market and are no doubt helped because they do not have to assemble their collections from their own vaults.

There’s a predominance of Russian artists here and one of its strengths is in golden age Russians, youngish and old: with Rozhdestvensky, Temirkanov, Simonov and Fedoseyev. Amongst the real old-timers there are Melik-Pashayev, Gauk, Nebolsin, Mravinsky, Samosud and Khaikin; we badly need someone to rescue Khaikin’s Melodiya recordings especially his Glazunov Seasons LP (EMI ASD2522). The names of Tretiakov, Oistrakh, Kogan, Kissin, Richter, Ponti, Janis and Cherkassky appear among the list of instrumental soloists.

There are compromises. You must expect that. The box itself is ingenious but its structure and origin as a folded piece of hard card is obvious. Its flip up-down lid will surely split along the seam if used at all thoroughly. Each of the 61 discs is held in its own high-gloss stiff card sleeve. Each genre is allocated its own signature colour. Indexing is to be found inside the cap lid and on the back of the box.

The lack of sung texts and translations is a pity, especially for the eight operas, though the songs and their translations are covered on the CD-ROM. The notes run to 184 pages (English only) and are extremely useful. The eminent authors include Keith Anderson (songs), Ates Orga, David Nice, Malcolm Macdonald, André Lischke, David Gutman and Robin Golding. A pity that the pdf does not organise the notes under headings that take you to the relevant CD number.

Recording technology varies from glorious to early mono primitive. Most of what you hear is in at least good sound. Nothing here is intolerable – though the Piano Trio on CD 24 dices with death. Maybe a fifth of the discs are in good mono; the rest in pleasing stereo.

There are some works omitted from this set but very few. I touch on these as I walk you through.

Symphonies 4-6 – CDs 4-6

Fear is a dreadful thing so let’s just dive in. Core to this and many another Tchaikovsky set are the last three numbered symphonies. Here Rozhdestvensky in 1987 with the LSO is in glorious form. The orchestra proves yet again, as it did with Previn and Markevitch, that it can raise its voice with a massively confident and convincing Russian accent. These three discs have appeared on Regis and as the main act in a Brilliant Classics Tchaikovsky Masterworks box with the two leading light concertos. The performances are from the very top drawer; a pity they did not do Manfred at the same time. There’s no compromise – except perhaps in the Andante of No. 4 which is unfeelingly quick. In this connection I recall being greatly moved by Daniel Barenboim’s old CBS LP with the NYPO in the early 1970s (unusually issued with miniature full score). Rozhdestvensky is so much better recorded but unlike Barenboim the poetry for this movement is hinted at rather than grasped and eloquently articulated. The brass however leaps out at you. Each antiphonal rasp and blare is tellingly done but then so are all the other regions of the orchestra. Each of the three CDs has a tangy filler: Marche Slave, Capriccio Italien (gauche as ever) and The Storm. Oddly enough there’s no Tempest to be found anywhere in this box. That’s one of a number of gaps; not that Brilliant claims that this is the Complete Tchaikovsky. When issued by Regis these three CDs also included Ahronovitch’s 1812. Not here. Instead, amid a Russian-dominated set, we get a planned, poised 1812 from the LPO and Alexander Gibson. This was recorded in 1989 and includes credible cannon fire and bells set amid a fatly resonant sound-picture.

If you were looking to complement this part of the set you could add the hyper-excitable and ultra-flammable 1960, London-studio Mravinsky in Tchaikovsky 4 from DG and the Leningrad Phil - stereo. Then try to track down that supreme Fifth of our time – the Monteux LSO 1960 recording on Vanguard.

It is interesting that this Tchaikovsky Edition opts for a variegated selection of performers for the symphonies rather than Brilliant’s previous 7CD edition of the symphonies and some tone poems. That Muti cycle is reputedly very good and has the maestro directing the Philadelphia and the Philharmonia in ex-EMI versions. It’s on Brilliant 99792. To enrich the broth still further, if you fancy just the symphonies on CDs 1-7 of this set in those exact recordings then they can be ordered as Brilliant Classics 94307. It’s quite difficult to keep up with the inventive permutational energies of Brilliant Classics. Whatever next?

You do not get the so-called ‘Seventh Symphony’ so you could think about adding that courtesy of DOM Talent, Järvi (Chandos CHAN9130) or Ormandy on Sony – originally CBS.

Historical Recordings – CDs 56-60

This set also provides its own comparators; not least in the five final discs (CDs 56-60: Historical Recording). There you will find a live 1972 Symphony No. 5 from Mravinsky. The sound is lively and inspiringly speckled with audience noise of all kinds – some truly realistic coughs, indiscriminately scattered. You really don’t mind as it’s such a gripping performance. Do not be deterred by the label ‘Historical Recording’; it sounds very well indeed. Even its 1948-49 disc-mates sound better than respectable, allowing for some raw blasting distortion in the louder bits of the Capriccio.

The ‘Historical Recordings’ Appendix is a pretty arbitrary hook on which to hang recordings worth hearing. After all in the 55 ‘mainstream’ discs there are recordings from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Brilliant have done similar things in their large-scale Chopin and Beethoven collections.

You could also place these five discs alongside a now rather overlooked EMI Tchaikovsky Historical box (7 64855-2) – never a Russian in sight – but including, amongst much else, the Fourth and Sixth Symphonies (Furtwängler/VPO/BPO), the Fifth (Cantelli/La Scala), Violin Concerto (Huberman/Steinberg) and Mata?ic with the Philharmonia in Hamlet and The Storm.

Symphonies 1-3 – CDs 1-3

We turn now to the first three numbered symphonies. Vladimir Fedoseyev has recorded a cycle of all six (5 and 6) and Manfred for the Swiss label, Relief. We hear in this set numbers 1 (CD1) and 3 (CD3) from that project. Colin Clarke greatly enjoyed No. 1 and I entirely agree with his findings. These first three symphonies are inadequately celebrated and the First, with its Balakirev and Kalinnikov flavours scrubs up very nicely indeed. Bernstein was also a dab hand at this work. The Gibson 1812, mentioned above, shares the same disc and is in decent sound. Fedoseyev’s fine Third is teamed with a tragically cloud-hung and angry Hamlet – just as it should be and with thunderously affirmative sound.

Yuri Simonov is in charge for Symphony No 2, Francesca (CD3) and Manfred (CD7). His Regis Khachaturyan compilation impressed me in 2005 (review). He is very good in No. 2 though not quite in the exultant Bernstein vein even if his exemplary recording is far superior to Bernstein’s CBS 1960s analogue. I greatly enjoyed Bernstein though and he is spectacular in those first three symphonies – not to be forgotten in the mêlée. They’re now on Sony Classics. I also like the Temirkanov (BMG) and Markevitch (Newton Classics) sets. Simonov favours the broader and steadier stride in Francesca at 26:16 against Mravinsky’s incendiary 1972 Francesca on CD60 at 22:48. He is gloriously well recorded and handles the central love-song with much the same moody tenderness as Ahronovitch with the LSO in an RFH concert in 1979. However if you want no holds-barred-frenzy in Francesca then try to find Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov’s Melodiya recording on deleted Olympia OCD139 (copies on Amazon for £10-12). Thanks again to Nick Barnard for guiding me to the Ovchinnikov. Simonov’s well recorded Manfred (CD7) has its moments – again in the poetic Andante and kindred episodes in the finale (tr. 4 11:30) – but in overview tends towards the diffuse. Not a patch on Svetlanov (BMG), Maazel (Eloquence) or the possessed Konstantin Symeonov (Vista Vera). It’s a shame Golovanov never reached Manfred.

As a further supplement to this superb Brilliant Classics box you could add the original 1872 version of Symphony No. 2 from the London Symphony Orchestra and Geoffrey Simon recorded in 1981-2 by Chandos (CHAN9190 substantially reissued as CHAN10041X). With CHAN9191 and CHAN8347 (music for cello and orchestra) Simon and Chandos extended the accessible Tchaikovsky discography with the little Rubinstein Serenade, toothsome extracts from Mazeppa, the Festival Overture on the Danish National Anthem, the unfamiliar 1869 version of Romeo and Juliet, the Incidental Music to Hamlet and the original 1876 and 1887 versions of respectively the Rococo Variations and the Pezzo Capriccioso. Chandos should consider a boxed version of that fascinating project. You can hear all but the cello pieces on mid-price CHAN10108 X and CHAN10041X. Another omission from the Brilliant box is the tone poem The Voyevode which has been recorded by Dorati (Decca) among others.

Incidental Music – CDs 8-9

CDs 8 and 9 include two of the sets of incidental music for the theatre: Hamlet (rec. 1951) and The Snow Maiden (rec. 1994). Hamlet is conducted by Gauk and has already featured in the first of Brilliant’s two wonderful Gauk boxes alongside Gauk’s Snow Maiden (review). Although hailing from 1951 the recordings sound very good indeed – so much for the knee-jerk condemnation so often meted out to Soviet recording technology and practice. Hamlet is of Tchaikovsky's glowing best, done with passion, while the Chistiakov-conducted Snow Maiden combines charm and exuberance (review). There are other even more obscure sequences of incidental music lying unrecorded.

The Orchestral Suites – CDs 10-11

The four orchestral suites are on CDs 10 and 11 from Marriner and the Stuttgart Radio orchestra. These are 1980s recordings from Capriccio – part of the Delta group. They are most cleanly and atmospherically recorded with a delightfully spread stereo image – a great way to discover some little known Tchaikovsky. There is much here to charm and excite in the borderlands between the torrid symphonies and the enchanting ballets. But wait, this is not the last we hear of the Suites. Tucked away on CD 17 are Ansermet’s 1966 analogue recordings of the Suites 3 and 4 – charmers both – listen to the reedy chattering Scherzo of No. 3 (tr. 8) just before the famously extracted Theme and Variations. They could just as easily have been found in the ‘Historical Recordings’ section but it makes sense that they appear here to fill out the disc to 78:17.

The Ballets - CDs 12-17

Six Ansermet-themed discs (CDs 12-17) set out the three ballets in older editions. They’re very imaginatively done. You must make a small allowance for the analogue hiss and a treble emphasis inherent in the vintage of the original tapes. Ansermet also conducts the Rococo Variations with that aristocratic poet Maurice Gendron. The other cello and orchestra works, as well as Rudin’s modern recording of the Rococo Variations, can be found on CD21 alongside a springy Serenade for Strings – also Rudin from 1997. The Gendron Rococo is followed by Ansermet’s forgotten Pathétique which is alert and very cleverly weighted without quite the utter extremes of searing emotion delivered by Mravinsky and his Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra whether on DG or on CD 59 of this collection.

The Concertos – CDs 18-21

The Concertos can be found on CDs 18-21 with Aaron Rosand’s Violin Concerto, from Vox, on CD31, Tretiakov’s on CD20 and Oistrakh and Kogan on CD58 as part of the Historical sequence.

The Piano Concertos on CDs 18-19 are laid out: No. 1 Janis (cracklingly precise and alert), No. 2 Cherkassky (much cut but good to hear Cherkassky in anything), No. 3 Ponti (well regarded). There’s a treasury of historical comparisons in the shape of Russian originals of No. 1 from 1948 (Oborin – stately poetry), 1949 (Gilels – lower key), 1968 (Richter - regal) and 1987 (Kissin – thunderously recorded and with sculpted, accelerated phrasing from a young Gergiev) on CDs 56-57.

That’s five versions of the Piano Concerto No. 1 in this box to set beside the four of the Violin Concerto: Tretiakov, Rosand, Oistrakh, Kogan. The Tretiakov is red meat, turbo buzz-saw stuff. This is complemented by a gripping and right up-front recording. There’s an audience present … and no mistake. Oistrakh is the soloist on my reference version though here, for Brilliant, the concert sound-picture is recessed by comparison with the BMG version. Oistrakh is jostled by EMI’s excellent Kogan with the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra/Silvestri. Sadly, in that case, Kogan ‘enjoys’ a shrill CD transfer that could easily be bettered; it was gorgeous on an ancient CFP LP (CFP40083) – the nectar turned to vinegar in the migration to CD. In the present case Kogan with Nebolsin from 1950 does not disappoint and the recording, though raw and raging, has you in the very front seats.

If you still hanker for yet more versions of the Tchaikovsky piano concertos then do not miss the Postnikova set of all three on Newton. She is visceral, even if the Second is cut – though nowhere near as grievously as in Cherkassky’s edition. There’s also a great and terribly neglected rarity in the shape of the first two concertos played by Mikaïl Petukhov. That Pavane CD was feted as Recording of the Month in 2002. Find it if you can. The same goes for the 1960s USSR recording of the Second Concerto by Zhukov – the pianist not the field marshal. Beyond that, if you want every scrap of Tchaikovsky for piano and orchestra there is a long gone 1999 3-CD collection on Koch-Schwann (364902) where the pianist was Andrei Hoteev and the Moscow Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev. I never heard it but I have read some scathing criticism of the pianism – intriguing though.

The Songs – CDs 51-55

The songs – all 5 CDs worth – are taken on CDs 51-55 by Ljuba Kazarnovskaya (soprano) and Ljuba Orfenova (piano). These Moscow-based recordings are licensed from Naxos who first issued them between 1998 and 2006. You can read MWI’s generally welcoming reviews. We tackled four of them: Vols. 1 (8.554357), 2, 3, 4, 5. The two artists are excellent but I cannot help wondering if a greater vocal variety would not have helped the case still further. When Chandos went for the Rachmaninov songs - again licensed now to Brilliant Classics - they enriched the gene pool with four or five prime Russian voices, male and female. Conifer did something similar in the late 1990s in the case of their four Tchaikovsky song volumes. The sung texts for the songs - in transliterated Russian and with English translations side-by-side - are on the CD-ROM.

The Piano Music - CDs 27-31

As for the piano music (CDs 27-31), Brilliant have negotiated licences from Vox who recorded these things with Ponti in marathon sessions in Stuttgart. They issued them in LP format in the early 1970s and these analogue recordings re-emerged across several VoxBox CD collections in the 1990s. The music is interesting though favouring charm, miniature values and morceaux – a forerunner of Macdowell - rather than torrential passion or the epic span. As a corpus of work it bears a similar relation to the orchestral music as the Sibelius piano music (recorded by Servadei and Gräsbeck) does to the Sibelius symphonies. The two piano sonatas – opp. 37 and 80 - are the closest parallel to the Sibelius Kyllikki in terms of ‘grown-up’ Odysseyan reach. It should not be forgotten that Postnikova recorded the Tchaikovsky solo piano music for Erato, though I have never heard that 7-CD set (ED 2292-45969-2 and 2292-45512-2.). It seems not to have re-emerged from Warner.

The Chamber Music - CDs 24-26

The chamber music (three numbered quartets, quartet movement, string sextet and piano trio) can be found on CDs 24-26 where the strain is taken by the Endellion Quartet in 1980s DDD recordings. The Quartets/Sextet performances were first issued as CRD3501-2 and have been well loved and respected ever since. The Piano Trio is from a March 1948 Soviet radio source. The grating primitive sound in that case is something of a trial (watery piano and scraping violin) – the least impressive in the set. Fortunately the performance is as passionate - yet as collegiate - as the reputations of the players promise; it needs to be. The artists are Oistrakh, Knushevitsky and Oborin, the first and last of whom can also be heard in the concertos on CDs 56 and 58. Each variation is separately tracked. Generous tracking is a feature of this set.

Secular and Sacred A Cappella Works – CDs 22-23

A selection of secular a cappella choruses are to be found on CD 23 which was reviewed here as an individual issue by Nick Barnard. One of the handful of omissions from this capacious set relates to the cantatas. You can experience these on Regis but if you do you will duplicate Nature and Love for two sopranos, alto, choir and piano which happens to be on CD23. It only lasts for 5:50, though. CD 22 has the main sacred work: the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.

The Operas – CDs 32-50

The greatest span of discovery is likely to be found on CDs 32-50: the home of eight of Tchaikovsky’s operas. They are all sung in Russian. That said, it’s best you brace yourself for a wide variety of recording technology, half of it mono analogue from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s. The operas in modern stereo digital are Onegin, Iolanta, Cherevichki and The Oprichnik. The operas not found here in any shape are all from his earlier years: The Voyevoda (1868), Undina (1869) and Vakula the Smith (1874) though Cherevichki is rewrite of the last of these. The last seven operas are present plus The Oprichnik.

The 1996 digital Onegin was made in the Novosibirsk State Opera with a most adept and sensitive local cast – no international stars here. It was first issued on Arte Nova. The string sound is ever so slightly pinched by comparison with the greatest but there is much of value here. The singers are steady of tone. The characters are nicely differentiated without caricaturing exaggeration. There’s healthy singing from the chorus – for example in the Servant Girls’ Chorus. All in all this is not a lush product. It is agreeably lean-toned – touching, with good young-sounding voices and naturally acted portrayals. This is all very much in keeping with Samuel Friedmann’s direction of the musicians. The licensor in this case is Sony who have insisted on their red quiff logo on the front of the card cover for CDs 32 and 33. It also appears on the Iolanta sleeves: CDs 42 and 43 – another Novosibirsk production.

As for The Oprichnik we hear the ubiquitous and tireless Rozhdestvensky directing an Italian live production – plenty of audience evidence - in Cagliari with a completely Russian singing cast. This is a passionate and vivid reading against which the Novosibirsk Onegin seems cool.

The comic opera Cherevichki (The Slippers) is also a Rozhdestvensky-Cagliari live event. This 1889 work is a revision of the 1874 Vakula the Smith. It’s a folk romp in the manner of similar operas by Dvorák and Smetana. The opera is described in Robert Farr’s review of the Fedoseyev recording on Relief. It boasts a splendid prelude with more than a touch of Russian nationalism. The superbly incendiary soprano Ekaterina Morosova takes the role of Oksana. She is a ripe and smiling joy throughout and her memorable singing is one of the crown jewels of the set. Similarly striking as Vakula is Valerij Popov – listen to him in tr.6 on CD37. He has what amounts to the heady Russian equivalent of the Italian squilla.

The Schiller-based Maid of Orleans is represented by a transfer of its first recording ever. This was made in the year after the end of the Second World War at the Kirov Opera and is directed by Boris Khaikin. Presumably Melodiya were by then using captured German tape technology. The sound is pretty good. Your ears quickly adjust to the surface burble. The extended and mellifluous orchestral Prelude is well worth hearing with bird-song seemingly represented amid echoes of Nutcracker. It is a lovely piece. As befits its turbulent and tragic subject this is a truly dramatic opera. As evidence do try the striking A distant fire (tr.5 CD40). The composer’s lyric genius can be heard in the minstrel song (tr.12 CD40). There’s a larger than usual complement of purely orchestral movements of considerable quality – strange that a concert suite has not emerged. Fanfares and stirring massed choral singing play their parts throughout. One can ‘hear’ the consuming flames in the final ‘Holy Father, help me. I am afraid’ from the Joan of Sofia Preobrazhenskaya and from the manic Kirov chorus. The whirlwind strings and stunning brass furnace recall the Fourth Symphony and Francesca da Rimini. This opera would be a good place to start your exploration of the lesser-known Tchaikovsky stage works.

There is a supplement in the shape of Preobrazhenskaya, a year later, singing the Countess Scene from Pique Dame. The surface here has scrubbed up well and is very clean indeed. If you are not already a connoisseur of the era and genre do make a note of Preobrazhenskaya’s name. Her laser clarity, steadiness and invincible power are striking. I wonder what else she recorded.

The final act of The Maid of Orleans is on CD42, as is the start of the 1996 Novosibirsk State Theatre recording of Iolanta. Iolanta is mature Tchaikovsky, sharing the passionate milieu and orchestral virtuosity of symphonies 4 and 5. The mood painting is brilliant and romantic. The engineers catch stage movement, depth and breadth very well. This production was evidently cast from strength with fine imaginative singing from all concerned.

The Pushkin-based Pique dame or Queen of Spades is heard here in a 1952 recording conducted by Melik-Pashayev. The cast includes some great names. Among the men there are Nelepp and Lisitsian. This is the work’s second recording - the first dates from 1940 and was conducted by Samuil Samosud. The sound quality is better than that for The Maid of Orleans with surfaces clean apart from the merest of almost-subsumed murmurs. Once again there’s some fervent choral singing, including from a vibrant children’s choir – try Burn, burn bright (tr. 2 CD44). Tchaikovsky can be heard in sweepingly giddy and supernatural eldritch mood in I am frightened (tr. 7 CD45). You can hear another take on extracts from Pique dame on CD48 which adds in three arias with the Moscow Phil conducted by Samosud. There’s also the Scene of the Finn and Ruslan from Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla alongside the three Toropka Songs from Verestovsky’s Askold’s Tomb.

Samuil Samosud is also the conductor for Charodeika (The Enchantress). This is from 1955 with surfaces as quiet as those on Pique dame. Again Nelepp is present. The supernatural element carries over from aspects of Pique dame. Despite having three years advantage over Pique dame the string sound here appears a shade more shrill though the brass and woodwind are engaging. There is some pre-echo – you can hear it in the Scene 18 (tr. 1 CD48) but only for the very loudest moments. The enjoyable moments cannot hide that the flame of Tchaikovsky’s inspiration does not burn as bright or as wild as in The Maid of Orleans, Iolanta or Pique Dame.

Mazeppa was a subject that also attracted Liszt and drew from him a tone poem – one of the cycle recorded by Nikolai Golovanov with the USSRSO. The present Nebolsin-conducted recording of the opera dates from 1952 (Wikipedia claims 1949). It has its technical flaws with a hint of distortion and some surface background. As expected these Bolshoi forces deliver flamingly atmospheric results and N. Pokrovskaya as Maria pours coloratura accelerant on the proceedings - try the scene between Maria and her mother at tr. 3 CD 50. The caramelised smoothness of the Maria aria (CD50 tr. 1) from tenor G Golshakov is gloriously indulgent. Did Bernstein know this aria, I wonder? Vintage Tchaikovsky.

There you have it: eight operas, seven of them less than familiar – all Russian, two derived from mid-1990s recordings made in Novosibirsk, two from modernish Cagliari-staged productions and four from historic mono Melodiya productions of the late-1940s to mid-1950s.

I recall a broadcast BBC Prom circa 1980 when Edward Downes - an out-and-out Russophile – introduced the audience to all that survives of an operatic project on Romeo and Juliet. This the composer worked on between 1878 and 1881. A 15 minute love duet was crafted by Taneyev from sketches. Downes’ redoubtable soprano was Eilene Hannan – I cannot recall the tenor. It went down a treat. While Downes did not go on to record this you can hear it on Bridge conducted by Peter Tiboris. It was a shame it could not have been licensed and fitted on here.

Summary

You think you ‘know’ a composer’s music. You have it all pinned down and nicely organised. You know that Tchaikovsky wrote other operas apart from Onegin but have you heard them? Then along comes a set like this – not that there are any sets like this – and you are forced to re-boot with the harvest of a composer’s lifetime – one that encompassed only 53 years.

Tchaikovsky’s music is held in affection and more by a large number of people. This remarkably generously priced set will have wide appeal. As a present - even to yourself – it will educate, surprise and delight time after time. Why wait?

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in G minor, Op. 13 "Winter daydreams" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866/1874; Russia 
2.
Nutcracker, Op. 71 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1892; Russia 
3.
Swan Lake, Op. 20 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1876; Russia 
4.
Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Russia 
5.
Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
6.
Variations for Cello and Orchestra on a Rococo theme, Op. 33 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Maurice Gendron (Cello)
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Russia 
7.
Suite for Orchestra no 3 in G major, Op. 55 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; Russia 
8.
Suite for Orchestra no 4 in G major, Op. 61 "Mozartiana" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Russia 
9.
Variations for Cello and Orchestra on a Rococo theme, Op. 33 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Alexander Rudin (Cello)
Conductor:  Nikolai Alexeev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Viva Instrumental Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Russia 
10.
Pezzo capriccioso for Cello and Orchestra in B minor, Op. 62 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Alexander Rudin (Cello)
Conductor:  Nikolai Alexeev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Viva Instrumental Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Russia 
11.
Morceaux (6) for Piano, Op. 19: no 4, Nocturne in C sharp minor by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Alexander Rudin (Cello)
Conductor:  Nikolai Alexeev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Viva Instrumental Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Russia 
12.
Andante cantabile for Cello and Strings, Op. 11 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Alexander Rudin (Cello)
Conductor:  Nikolai Alexeev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Viva Instrumental Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1886-88; Russia 
13.
Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Nikolai Alexeev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Viva Instrumental Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Russia 
14.
Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Yuri Simonov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Russia 
15.
1812 Overture, Op. 49 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Alexander Gibson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Russia 
16.
The Storm, Op. 76 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1864; Russia 
17.
Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1987 
Length: 45 Minutes 28 Secs. 
18.
Capriccio italien, Op. 45 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Russia 
19.
Symphony no 5 in E minor, Op. 64 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 
20.
Symphony no 4 in F minor, Op. 36 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1878; Russia 
21.
Marche slave, Op. 31 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Russia 
22.
Manfred Symphony in B minor, Op. 58 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Rod Elms (Organ)
Conductor:  Yuri Simonov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885 
Length: 59 Minutes 13 Secs. 
23.
Symphony no 3 in D major, Op. 29 "Polish" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Radio Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875; Russia 
Date of Recording: 02/1999 
24.
Hamlet Overture, Op. 67 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Radio Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 
Date of Recording: 06/1999 
25.
Symphony no 2 in C minor, Op. 17 "Little Russian" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Yuri Simonov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
26.
Snow Maiden, Op. 12 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Natalia Erasova (Soprano), Alexander Arkhipov (Tenor), Nikolai Vassiliev (Baritone)
Conductor:  Andrey Chistiakov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Russian State Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Russia 
Date of Recording: 12/1993 
Venue:  Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, Russia 
Length: 72 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
27.
Suite for Orchestra no 1 in D major, Op. 43 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1879; Russia 
28.
Suite for Orchestra no 2 in C major, Op. 53 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; Russia 
29.
Suite for Orchestra no 3 in G major, Op. 55 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; Russia 
30.
Suite for Orchestra no 4 in G major, Op. 61 "Mozartiana" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Russia 
31.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in G major, Op. 44 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Shura Cherkassky (Piano)
Conductor:  Walter Susskind
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879-1880; Russia 
32.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Byron Janis (Piano)
Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
33.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Lev Oborin (Piano)
Conductor:  Alexander Gauk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  USSR State Radio/TV Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
Date of Recording: C1991 
Length: 32 Minutes 9 Secs. 
34.
Concert Fantasia for Piano and Orchestra in G major, Op. 56 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Michael Ponti (Piano)
Conductor:  Richard Kapp
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; Russia 
Date of Recording: C1991 
Length: 27 Minutes 59 Secs. 
35.
Concerto for Piano no 3 in E flat major, Op. 75 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Michael Ponti (Piano)
Conductor:  Louis de Froment
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Luxembourg Radio/Television Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
Date of Recording: C1991 
Length: 31 Minutes 34 Secs. 
36.
Hamlet, Op. 67a by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Alexander Gauk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  USSR State Radio/TV Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; Russia 
37.
Fatum, Op. 77 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Alexander Gauk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grand Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; Russia 
38.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Evgeni Kissin (Piano)
Conductor:  Valery Gergiev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
39.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter (Piano)
Conductor:  Kiril Kondrashin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
40.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Emil Gilels (Piano)
Conductor:  Kiril Kondrashin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  USSR State Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
41.
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 35 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Leonid Kogan (Violin)
Conductor:  Vasily Nebolsin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  USSR State Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
42.
Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Russia 
43.
Symphony no 5 in E minor, Op. 64 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 
44.
Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Russia 
45.
Capriccio italien, Op. 45 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Russia 
46.
Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66: no 28, Act 3 - Pas de deux by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Russia 
47.
Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a: no 7, Dance of the Reeds by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Russia 
48.
Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a: no 6, Chinese Dance by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Russia 
49.
Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a: no 5, Arabian Dance "Coffee" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Russia 
50.
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 35 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  David Oistrakh (Violin)
Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
51.
The sorceress by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Levon Khachaturov (Baritone), Alexei Koroliov (Bass), Natalia Sokolova (Soprano),
Mikhail Kiselev (Baritone), Georgi Nelepp (Tenor), Mikhail Skazin (Bass),
Piotr Pontryagin (Tenor), Anna Matushina (Mezzo Soprano), Pavel Korbkov (Baritone),
Varvara Gradova (Soprano), Alexander Tikhonov (Baritone), Veronika Borisenko (Mezzo Soprano),
Alexei Usmanov (Tenor), Gennadiy Troirsky (Bass), Serafim Sladkopevtzev (Tenor)
Conductor:  Samuel Samosud
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra,  Moscow Radio Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885-1887; Russia 
Length: 225 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
52.
Queen of Spades, Op. 68 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Alexei Ivanov (Baritone), Georgi Nelepp (Tenor), Eugenia Verbitskaya (Mezzo Soprano),
Elena Smolenskaya (Soprano), Elena Korneyeva (Mezzo Soprano), Veronika Borisenko (Mezzo Soprano),
Pavel Lisitsian (Baritone)
Conductor:  Alexander Melik-Pashayev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra,  Bolshoi Theatre Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1890; Russia 
Venue:  Russia 
53.
Mazeppa by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Alexei Ivanov (Baritone), Nina Pokrovskaya (Soprano), Vsevolod Tyutyunik (Bass),
Feodor Godovkin (Tenor), V. Davidova (Mezzo Soprano), G. Bolshakov (Tenor),
T. Chermiakov (Tenor), Ivan Petrov (Bass)
Conductor:  Vassily Nebolssin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra,  Bolshoi Theatre Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881-1883; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1952 
54.
Maid of Orleans by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  L. Solomiak (), Sofya P. Preobrajenskaya (Mezzo Soprano), N. Konstantinov (),
Vladimir Ulianov (Tenor), I. Yashugin (), V. Runovsky (),
Ivan Shashkov (Baritone), A. Marin (), V. Kilchevsky (),
S. Vodsinsky (), M. Merzhevskaya (), N. Grishanov (),
O. Kashevarova ()
Conductor:  Boris Khaikin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kirov Theater Orchestra,  Kirov Theater Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1879; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1946 
Venue:  Live  Leningrad, USSR 
Length: 215 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
55.
Sextet for Strings in D major, Op. 70 "Souvenir de Florence" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1890/1892; Russia 
56.
Trio for Piano and Strings in A minor, Op. 50 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881-1882; Russia 
57.
Quartet for Strings no 3 in E flat minor, Op. 30 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Russia 
58.
Quartet for Strings no 2 in F major, Op. 22 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Russia 
59.
Quartet for Strings no 1 in D major, Op. 11 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Russia 
60.
Valse caprice for Piano in D major, Op. 4 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; Russia 
61.
Sonata for Piano in G major, Op. 37 "Grande Sonate" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
62.
Sonata for Piano in C sharp minor, Op. 80 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1865; Russia 
63.
Morceaux (6) for Piano, Op. 21 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Russia 
64.
Morceaux (18) for Piano, Op. 72 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
65.
Les saisons, Op. 37b by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
66.
Album pour enfants, Op. 39 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Historical recordings: Leonid Kogan / Violin Con January 30, 2013 By Michel Roberge (Valleyfield, QC) See All My Reviews "I have very good recordings of some of the masterpeaces of Tchaikovsky, but listening to Leonid Kogan's interpretation of the violin concerto was a complete joy and I could not beleive the quality of the 1950 recording, simply perfect. Just for that, I am in heaven." Report Abuse
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