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Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 & Hamlet Overture

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 & Hamlet Overture

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"Nowhere does the CD make clear whether these performances were recorded before live concert audiences in Birmingham Symphony Hall on October 16–17, 2008; but, in concert or not, this is one of the more spectacular sounding symphonic recordings to come my way in some time. The dynamic range is awesome, and I’m pretty sure that for the first time I heard details of Tchaikovsky’s scoring, even in the most densely orchestrated passages, that I’ve never heard before.

It’s been such a long time since I last listened to Tchaikovsky’s Hamlet Overture, I’d forgotten what a seething cauldron of a witch’s brew it’s able to stir up. Part Romeo and Juliet and part Francesca da Rimini, the piece grew out of an invitation the composer received to write incidental music for a production of Shakespeare’s play. The project fizzled, but Tchaikovsky decided to put his efforts to good use in a concert overture cum fantasia that, had it been presented as an actual curtain raiser, would probably have upstaged the play it was intended to introduce. I mean, whoever heard of a 19-minute bombast-filled overture? There’s little in the way of musical storytelling or depiction of the play’s characters; and the big, heart-throbbing melody one expects from Tchaikovsky, atypically, never quite materializes. Rather, the work is more of a psychological study in the moods, motivations, and states of mind of the dramatis personae, most of which and for most of the time are angry and highly agitated. The Hamlet Overture makes for a logical discmate in that chronologically it’s exactly contemporaneous with the Fifth Symphony; both works claim 1888 as their date of origin. Again, as with the Symphony, Nelsons turns out a fantastic performance...He whips up the proceedings to quite a frenzied pitch; so, if you like loud and exciting passages to be really loud and exciting, Nelsons and the CBSO will not disappoint."

-- Jerry Dubins, Fanfare [1/2010]
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Product Description:


  • Release Date: May 28, 2009


  • UPC: 4011790780122


  • Catalog Number: ORF-C780091


  • Label: ORFEO


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra


  • Performer: Andris Nelsons