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James Miller
Fanfare, March 2012

The Pletnev performance’s 93-minute timing made me suspect that a lot of the numbers were going to be presented in a relaxed, sympathetic way and, although the performance does not lack brilliance when the music calls for it, the general impression I get is of a conductor who can almost envision the dancers on stage before him, loves the music, has an idea how it should go, and isn’t trying to impress me. Like nearly all the recordings it’s well played, and more so than many of them has warm, plush sound to support the performance. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

David Nice
BBC Music Magazine, March 2012


I love the slow burn of Pletnev’s Christmas-tree transformation, the nimbleness of the battle between the Nutcracker’s forces and the mice, and the strangeness of his Snowflakes Waltz. Act II is generally more consistent, with nicely spotlight contributions from harps and celesta…the RNO woodwind have plenty of character throughout, and are brightly lit by Ondine’s vivid recording; prepare for an earthquake in the big, symphonic Act I climaxes, the sphere in which Pletnev truly excels… © 2012 BBC Music Magazine

Jane Jones
Classic FM, February 2012

Tchaikovsky’s magical story comes to life as Pletnev reasserts his reputation as an outstanding ballet conductor.  The delightfully detailed playing from the orchestra brings these enchanting characters to life, in a well paced, elegant narrative. © 2012 Classic FM, October 2011

this work is a genuine charmer, and it is crucial not to overwhelm it with too big a sound or attempt to give it profundity that it does not possess. Pletnev clearly understands this: he lets the first act unfold with as much drama as it contains, emphasizing the many elegant instrumental touches that Tchaikovsky brought to the score, and then he simply makes the second act—essentially a long series of characteristic dances—into a celebration. The music is so familiar that there is very little new to be heard in it. To his credit, Pletnev does not attempt to extract additional meanings or a higher level of importance from a score that is short for a ballet and was not even intended to be performed by itself… The good thing about Pletnev’s restrained approach is that it lets the excellent playing of the orchestra shine through and allows the music to flow naturally and without any pomposity whatsoever. The ballet becomes a sort of sumptuous divertissement filled with gorgeous melodies that flow over each other unceasingly from start to finish—not exactly what is intended in a stage work, perhaps, but a very pleasant way to hear this particular much-loved standard of the Romantic era.

Stephen Eddins, October 2011

Fans of the Nutcracker Suite who are looking for more of the same type of music need look no further than the complete ballet, which contains almost four times as much music as the eight-movement suite. The suite includes much of the most striking music, but the entire ballet is a lovely, lyrical piece that should appeal to fans of graceful Romantic orchestral music. Mikhail Pletnev, leading the Russian National Orchestra and the Vesna Children’s Choir, delivers an elegant account of the score. The orchestra plays with dazzling precision and a warm, round tone, and beautifully conveys the predominant mood of magical, gossamer delicacy. Although this is certainly music with which the orchestra is intimately familiar, there is nothing routine about their playing. Ondine’s sound is immaculate, full, and nicely detailed.

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