Pletnev is well known to eschew all star-like superficialities . . . Beethoven's Sixth is perhaps the best loved of his symphonies, but in the course of 200 years it has become corseted into traditions which even great interpreters hesitate to ignore. Pletnev has the stature to do so. The very first twelve bars are phrased and played at speeds that are utterly new and, to me, were a revelation. We've all heard this work innumerable times and all interprations seem to have differed only in minute details, depending on the brilliance or lack of it of the performing orchestras. Pletnev challenged all this. His recent recordings of all the nine Beethoven symphonies with his orchestra are acknowledged by critics as opening our ears to entirely new aspects and motivations of these works. It was this diversity, this searching and finding completely new subtleties in phrasing, counterpoint and colours of orchestration, that made me sit up in wonderment and delight . . .
. . . Pletnev¿s cycle . . . [is] significant. Especially for cheek, excitement and rhetoric . . . Pletnev¿s volatile behaviour gives the symphonies a sense of exploration and growth . . . there¿s life and surprise in every bar . . .
Mikhail Pletnev, in his new set of Beethoven symphonies, doesn't want to run his musicians down the smooth rails of expectation; he wants to rattle us, shake us from our complacency and astonish us. He wants us not to glide through familiar music, but to wake up and pay attention -- as if hearing it again for the first time . . . The first movement of the Eroica is probably the highlight of Pletnev's set . . . Pletnev's Eroica doesn't want to lull us; it wants to slap us awake. And to express what it's about requires its performer to understand and use rhetoric to make his points . . . Each movement is played as if he wanted us to hear it as an act in a drama, with themes playing the various parts, and being here angry, there imploring, yet again, joyous. It should never tick along like a clock . . . The First is bright and witty . . . for anyone with adventurous ears, this set provides what we most desire in our music: not familiarity but a genuine experience . . . listen and be amazed.
Mikhail Pletnev takes a[n] . . . approach, with results that are intermittently satisfying . . . he has a fine orchestra . . . the Russian National Orchestra plays Beethoven marvellously . . . The recording quality of the new DG set is excellent . . . transparent and very clean.
The result is crystalline interpretations that play fast and loose with the composer's instructions, yet manage to sound utterly convincing. The audio quality is excellent.
The recordings . . . are excellent . . . and the result is first-rate.
Mikhail Pletnev is a brilliant musician, an amazing pianist and an idiosyncratic conductor, and he has made a glorious mess of the Beethoven symphonies. The seesawing of tempos in this compelling, driving and sometimes shocking set induce now motion sickness, now awe . . . it demands to be heard.
. . . on a recording of all the Beethoven symphonies, released on Deutsche Grammophon, he gets the Russian National Orchestra to play -- or so I'd swear -- as if it never heard this music before. Just listen to what happens with the big tune in the last movement of the Ninth . . . Pletnev does catch it. In his performance, when the tune appeared -- first softly, then radiant with light -- it sounded like a discovery. When finally it called to heaven with the massed voices of the full orchestra, I wanted to get up and shout. I wanted to sing along. When has that ever happened to me? I just rechecked that moment, as I'm writing this, cuing the first appearance of the tune on my iPod. And I wanted to get up and shout all over again . . . the Seventh still is exciting . . . the performances are precise, even in the midst of all the wildness, with every rhythm exact and every instrument clearly heard. Which leaves us with some lovely contradictions, with music that seems to be in flux, caught in the heat of inspiration, often breaking all the sober rules of classical music by giving each new moment its own sound and flow, or even a distinctly different speed.
[No. 9]:. . . das russische Nationalorchester lässt es so richtig brodeln, mit expressiven Gestus wird hier in bester romantischer Tradition musiziert . . . dieser Gesamteinspielung [muss man] ein ausdifferenziertes, klares Klangbild bescheinigen. Vor allem der kräftige Bariton von Matthias Goerne weiß im sich direkt anschließenden Finale mitzureißen. Wenn er das ´O Freunde, nicht diese Töne´ anstimmt, steht bereits fest, dass diese grenzensprengende musikalische Jubelfeier einem auch noch beim tausendsten Hören ein Schaudern über den Rücken jagt . . .
Insgesamt legt Mikhail Pletnev mit dem russischen Nationalorchester eine äußerst schwungvolle Gesamteinspielung von Beethovens Sinfonien vor. Oft originell im Zugang, verleiht er ihnen einen frisch glänzenden Anstrich . . . alle . . . werden voll auf ihre Kosten kommen.