Vladimir Jurowski

Tchaikovsky: Suite No. 3; Stravinsky: Divertimento

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Tchaikovsky: Suite No. 3; Stravinsky: Divertimento Review

by James Leonard

Beautifully recorded and lovingly performed, Vladimir Jurowski and the Russian National Orchestra's coupling of Tchaikovsky's Third Orchestra Suite and Stravinsky's Divertimento from Le baiser de la fée has almost everything going for it. It has plenty of power -- listen to the brass in the Dies irae quote in Tchaikovsky's closing "Theme and Variations" -- plenty of enthusiasm -- listen to the woodwinds in Stravinsky's Dances Suisses -- and plenty of soul -- listen to the strings in the Elégie that opens Tchaikovsky's Suite. Jurowski has the energy to keep the tempos moving, the wit to keep the melodies bouncing, the strength to keep the lines firm, and the sense not to let the music get carried away with itself. The Russian National Orchestra has the big tone, the muscular rhythms, the brilliant colors, and the unsurpassed integrity of the great Soviet orchestras. And PentaTone's super audio sound is as good as the best recordings ever made in any format. So what's missing? In a word, refinement. Not often but too often for comfort, the brass will crack or the strings will slip or the winds will bleat or the ensemble will slide and the listener will be left wondering what happened to the first-rate performance he/she had been listening to. Although anyone who already knows and loves either Tchaikovsky's Third Suite or Stravinsky's Divertimento will want to check out this disc for its many merits, those who do may find themselves slightly let down by the end.

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