Deutsche Grammophon's 2010 reissue of Mikhail Pletnev's recordings of the symphonies and major orchestral works of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky is a seven-disc trimline box set that presents the music in a logical fashion and meets expectations of what this admired conductor can do. Pletnev leads the Russian National Orchestra with confidence and clearheaded thinking, and his interpretations of Tchaikovsky definitely lean to the rational side of Romanticism: as passionate and emotional as the works are in the public imagination, Pletnev always remembers that Tchaikovsky was at heart a classicist, so he is careful not to neglect the formal concerns and gracefulness of melody that are the soul of the music.
Claudio Abbado is one of the leading conductors of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. He has held a number of prestigious posts, any one of which would be a crowning achievement for a conductor, and his musical presence in both concert and recordings has left an undeniable legacy of excellence. His family traces its roots to a prominent Moorish family expelled from Spain in 1492 and is said to include the architect of the Alhambra. His father was Michelangelo Abbado, a violinist and teacher who gave both Claudio and his brother, Marcello Abbado, their first piano and music lessons (Marcello has gone on to become a pianist and composer)… ~ Joseph Stevenson, Rovi
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский) 7 May 1840 [O.S. 25 April] – 6 November 1893 [O.S. 25 October]) was a Russian composer of the Romantic era. He wrote some of the most popular concert and theatrical music in the current classical repertoire, including the ballets Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, the 1812 Overture, his First Piano Concerto, seven symphonies, and the opera Eugene Onegin.
Born into a middle-class family, Tchaikovsky's education prepared him for a career as a civil servant, despite the musical precocity he had demonstrated. Against the wishes of his family he chose to pursue a musical career, and in 1862 entered the St Petersburg Conservatory, graduating in 1865. This formal, Western-oriented training set him apart, musically, from the contemporary nationalistic movement embodied by the group of young Russian composers known as "The Five", with whom Tchaikovsky sustained a mixed professional relationship throughout his career.
As his style developed, Tchaikovsky wrote music across a range of genres, including symphony, opera, ballet, instrumental, chamber and song. Although he enjoyed many popular successes, he was never emotionally secure, and his life was punctuated by personal crises and periods of depression. Contributory factors were his suppressed homosexuality and fear of exposure, his disastrous marriage, and the sudden collapse of the one enduring relationship of his adult life, his 13-year association with the wealthy widow Nadezhda von Meck. Amid private turmoil Tchaikovsky's public reputation grew; he was honored by the Tsar, awarded a lifetime pension and lauded in the concert halls of the world. His sudden death at the age of 53 is generally ascribed to cholera, but some attribute it to suicide.
Although enduringly popular with concert audiences across the world, Tchaikovsky has at times been judged harshly by critics, musicians and composers. However, his reputation as a significant composer is now generally regarded as secure. In the early and mid-20th century, Western critics dismissed his music as vulgar and lacking in elevated thought, but this disdain has largely dissipated.