Mikhail Pletnev / Russian National Orchestra

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6; Capriccio Italien

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Had this been a conventional CD release, Mikhail Pletnev's studio recording of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor, "Pathétique," might have stood out as an excellent rendition of this extremely popular work, but like too many comparable recordings on the glutted market, it might have been lost in the shuffle. What makes it considerably more noticeable and desirable is the DSD recording and the hybrid-SACD format, which make it a stunner. The "Pathétique" is so familiar and beloved of audiences that it is easy to treat it casually, like aural wallpaper. But this 2011 PentaTone release makes the symphony sound utterly revitalized and refreshed, so listening to all the details and dimensions of the Russian National Orchestra's playing is a pleasure, and not an obligation. A work as perennial and, yes, timeworn as this piece can only benefit from the audiophile treatment, and the multichannel reproduction is as spacious, lush, and visceral as any live performance, bringing across full sonorities, vibrant bass lines, rich timbres, and cutting attacks. Pletnev also includes the Capriccio Italien as filler, a sunny piece that brightens the mood after the dark depression of the symphony, so this is a well-balanced program, in addition to being a sonic spectacular.

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