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Tchaikovsky: Hamlet, Romeo And Juliet Fantasy Overture / Jurowski, Monogarova, Mikhailov, Et Al

Release Date: 10/28/2008 
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186330   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Maxim MikhailovTatiana Monogarova
Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian National Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

Two Shakespearean fantasy overtures – but, excitingly, not as we know them

There are various qualities that raise Vladimir Jurowski above the ranks of many similarly (or indeed more) feted conductors of his generation and thereabouts. One is his questing journey to discover and refresh hidden corners of the repertoire. His concerts with the London Philharmonic are testament to that, as are recordings like this one. Think you know your Tchaikovsky? Think again.

Jurowski and the Russian National Orchestra have returned to the original
Read more version of the Romeo and Juliet Overture, pairing it with the incidental music to Hamlet and the revised theatre version of the Hamlet Overture. The results are fascinating. Hamlet gives us a glimpse into a composer with a theatre director’s sensibility – he knows when to lend urgency to the players without overwhelming them, the music heightening but never upstaging.

Then, when the music must take centre-stage, he provides Ophelia’s exquisite songs of madness. There are fascinating influences from elsewhere – the Third Symphony, even hints of The Queen of Spades. And throughout, as in the alternatively spectral and violent Romeo and Juliet, Jurowski and his forces offer playing of drive and passion.

-- Gramophone [3/2009]

Phew! What a relief to learn that the Russian National Orchestra can, after all, play Russian music when working with a conductor who knows what he is doing. Not all of Vladimir Jurowski's recordings with this orchestra have been excellent (Prokofiev's Fifth was a big disappointment, for example), but this one certainly is. Having unusual, not over-recorded repertoire certainly helps. Tchaikovsky's incidential music to Hamlet consists of a reduced version of the symphonic poem we all know and (some of us) love, with a bunch of interludes, fanfares, melodramas, and songs filling out about 45 minutes of music. Not all of it is top-drawer Tchaikovsky, but it is colorful, tuneful, atmospheric, and utterly characteristic. It's also played to the hilt and magnificently recorded, with Tatiana Monogarova a nicely vulnerable Ophelia in her two songs (the bass gets a brief gravedigger's song, and that's it).

Tchaikovsky's original version of Romeo and Juliet is substantially shorter than the more familiar revised score (about seven minutes in this performance) largely on account of the totally different introduction and briefer coda. The battle music is the same, but the development section and final climax are completely different, and Friar Lawrence is missing (and I personally couldn't care less). I actually like the original introduction better than the later one, but from the start of the battle onward Tchaikovsky's second thoughts are uniformly superior. This is clearly the best recording of the 1869 original to date: it's taut and exciting, and Jurowski lets the cymbals, bass drum, and timpani go nuts at all the right places. Here, then, is a terrific disc to fill out your already more-or-less complete Tchaikovsky collection.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Hamlet, Op. 67a by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Maxim Mikhailov (Bass), Tatiana Monogarova (Soprano)
Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; Russia 
Romeo and Juliet Overture by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Tatiana Monogarova (Soprano), Maxim Mikhailov (Bass)
Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869/1880; Russia 

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