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Tchaikovsky And Shakespeare / Dudamel, Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra


Release Date: 03/08/2011 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001529602  
Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



TCHAIKOVSKY Hamlet. The Tempest. Romeo and Juliet Gustavo Dudamel, cond; Simón Bolívar SO of Venezuela DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON B0015296-02 (65:35)


“Tchaikovsky and Shakespeare” is the theme of Dudamel’s latest disc, and the three works make a satisfying program, with some useful historical context provided in notes by actor Simon Callow.


There is nothing callow about the music-making on offer from these young players—in Dudamel’s hands these scores are powerful, Read more weighty symphonic dramas, if anything tending to err (though only occasionally) on the side of sobriety. To start with the work with the fiercest recorded competition, Romeo and Juliet immediately commands attention in the very slow, quiet treatment of the introduction, beset (not altogether convincingly) by agogic hesitations that impart an etiolated, fragile quality; in the transition to the Allegro , the stabbing accents are perhaps a little overdone. The Allegro giusto is played for weight and amplitude—at Rehearsal E ff., note the unusually artful shaping of the ff 16th notes. The treatment of the love theme is highly original—delicate and introverted, with an exploratory feeling that is most effective. The development begins with extraordinary delicacy (those syncopated violins, bars 285 ff.), building to a weighty, powerful climax. The love music returns with ear-catchingly prominent violin buzzing (bars 367 ff.), though later, Dudamel’s artful building of the extended passage’s subtle dynamic curve (subsidence, then the sudden late blossoming to an even greater climax) perhaps sounds a shade over-manipulated. The ensuing catastrophic showdown is massive and implacable, and the strings’ descent to the B-Major epilogue is possessed of an amazing vehemence. The end is magnificently dark and somber. At 22: 14, the reading is certainly on the spacious side.


Compared to others in this tempo range, Dudamel has more in common with the massive, richly earthy Rostropovich/London Philharmonic (EMI) than Bernstein’s erratic, stop-start affair with the New York Philharmonic (DG). If you prefer your Romeo lighter on its feet, there is no shortage of exciting recent versions to choose from—Gatti/Royal Phiharmonic (Harmonia Mundi), Pletnev/Russian National Orchestra (DG—or even better, the new remake on PentaTone), Fischer/Budapest Festival Orchestra (Channel Classics), Pappano/Rome St. Cecilia Orchestra (EMI).


Hamlet is powerful and concentrated, with blazingly committed orchestral playing. Winds and brass have a distinctive rasp and buzz; strings dig in excitingly, but can also invest accompanimental figuration with a breath-catching pp refinement. Ophelia’s theme is played straight and seriously, and gorgeously colored.


The Tempest is again very spacious at 24:42 (compare Pletnev at 21:39). The opening draws us into a rarefied world of marine enchantment, the texture—strings’ pp aquatic shimmer kaleidoscopically shot through with muted fanfares—sustained over the long haul with wonderful quiet intensity. The love music is beautiful but again a little straitlaced—compare Abbado’s compelling freedom of shaping here (BPO/DG). The central development’s raucous hollering amid the storm (14:50 ff.) is projected with tremendous éclat.


DG’s recording is bright and detailed. All in all, this is highly compelling music-making that really stands out from the crowd, and is strongly recommended.


FANFARE: Boyd Pomeroy
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Works on This Recording

1. Hamlet Overture, Op. 67 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 
2. The tempest, Op. 18 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Russia 
3. Romeo and Juliet Overture by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869/1880; Russia 

Featured Sound Samples

Hamlet Overture
The Tempest

Sound Samples

Hamlet - Overture-Fantasy after Shakespeare, Op.67
The Tempest, Op.18
Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture: Romeo and Juliet - Fantasy Overture

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