TCHAIKOVSKY: Suite No. 3 in G, Op. 55; STRAVINSKY: Divertimento “The Fairy’s Kiss” – Russian National Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski – PentaTone multichannel SACD PTC 5186 061, 64:02 [Distr. by Naxos] *****:
Rather similar to his overplayed Serenade for Strings, Tchakovsky’s four Suites for Orchestra should be in the standard repertory, but strangely are not. No. 3 of 1884 is a lovely work – just as interesting as any of the symphonies, though less dramatic.
From the first notes, one realizes that not only do Jurowski and his Russian players love this work, but the PentaTone engineering staff has lavished some of its best reproduction ever on this SACD. The violins are clearly spaced left and right, and there is a tremendous depth to the orchestra, not always heard on some SACDs. The finale of the suite is at 20 minutes twice as long as its first movement, and is a rollicking theme and a dozen variations. During it, the orchestra’s various sections get to do their thing almost like Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. The superb musicianship of this orchestra comes across especially in this brilliant movement.
The idea of pairing one of the Tchaikovsky Suites with Stravinsky’s clever arrangements of lesser-known Tchaikovsky piano music for his Fairy’s Kiss Divertimento may be unique with this disc. There have some pairings of other Tchaikovsky works with The Fairy’s Kiss, but not one of the Suites. Although this is only selections from the complete ballet, the familiar tunes are here. This is a much milder and more pastoral ballet than the famous Stravinsky ones, but Tchaikovsky’s wonderful melodies shine with great beauty. The playing is again of the highest quality and the sonics at demo level. You can’t go wrong with this SACD, even if you already have both works in your collection.
— John Sunier