This two-disc set marks the beginning of a new project devoted to Tchaikovsky’s ballet scores. We start the survey with the complete score of The Sleeping Beauty, recorded on SACD. Swan Lake and The Nutcracker will follow in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Tchaikovsky was approached by the Director of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg, Ivan Vsevolozhsky, in 1888 about a possible ballet adaptation of Charles Perrault’s La Belle au bois dormant (The Sleeping Beauty). The vision was to stage the production in the style of Louis XIV, allowing the musical fantasy to run high and melodies to be written in the spirit of Lully, Bach, and Rameau. This proposal for a fairy-tale ballet rooted firmly in both the rococo and baroque periods appealed to Tchaikovsky, and The Sleeping Beauty was premiered in 1890, with choreography by Petipa, the principal choreographer of his day.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin's first symphonic recording with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra on Deutsche Grammophon is of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor, "Pathétique," which the conductor has known intimately throughout his career. Due to his familiarity with the music, this is a solid reading that holds its own against the large number of recordings of this symphony, so listeners who need a first-rate version can be assured of the interpretation and the performance. Yet because this is one of the most frequently recorded classical pieces of all time, one may wonder what Nézet-Séguin brings to it that makes his rendition necessary.
Igor Markevitch's Tchaikovsky performances have been among the best since the early '60s. He turned the unruly London Symphony Orchestra into a first-rate Tchaikovsky ensemble, in which a finely disciplined approach to rhythm provides the perfect foundation for some highly expressive music-making.