I have greatly enjoyed Kazuki Yamada's previous Pentatone recordings and was, at first, excited to see this release. "At first" because, on closer examination, I was dismayed to see nearly half of this program consists of yet another Tchaikovsky Swan Lake suite. Sigh...
The rest of the program is more adventurous and innovative, and it is there I gained the most enjoyment from this disc. Not that there is anything wrong with Yamada's Tchaikovsky. Far from it. It's well played and superbly recorded - but that's about it. There is nothing revelatory; no real insight; it's not even terribly exciting. But it is full of rich orchestral color and provides us with some of the best recorded sound yet of a symphony orchestra.
The Glazunov Concert Waltzes have been curiously neglected on record. They are lovely works and fare well here in Pentatone's lavish, luminous, richly upholstered sound. The Stravinsky Golden Age suite is another treat given that we get all 4 sections rather than just the most popular Polka and Dance. Rounding off the concert is Stravinsky's Circus Polka . But at just under 4 minutes, I longed for more Stravinsky.
As enjoyable as it is, how I wish Yamada had been more imaginative in program selection. Realistically, who in the world needs yet another Swan Lake suite (ho-hum), which occupies 31 minutes of this disc. However, there is no denying this is probably better recorded than any other version on one's shelves, so there is a place for it I suppose. Also, a little more verve would have benefited the entire concert here. But I'm being picky now. Instead, we can sit back, relax and luxuriate in some of the most realistic recorded sound imaginable. The orchestra plays superbly. And the sound is warm, spacious, airy and full of color and texture, with luscious, silky string tone, burnished, golden brass choirs, and a potent (tight) bass drum presence. Indeed, this is as close to what you'd hear "live" as I've experienced on my sound system.