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Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Symphony No. 3 in D, Op. 29, Polish (1875) [47’11]
Hamlet, Op. 67 (1888) [19’02]
Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio/Vladimir Fedoseyev.
Rec. February (Op. 29), June (Op. 67) 1999, venue unspecified. DDD
RELIEF CR991050 [66’42]


Another Fedoseyev/Relief disc with much to recommend it. The performances in this series have a consistent authenticity that, whatever small interpretative caveats one may find, is nevertheless most compelling
(see also ).
The actual sound of the Moscow orchestra contributes - dark, intense, with a tasteful amount of vibrato from the brass; the recording, also, seems to highlight the dark intensity without losing detail unnecessarily.

The coupling here of one of the lesser-known symphonies with Hamlet works remarkably well. Fedoseyev’s advocacy of both scores is never in doubt. The five-movement Polish is played for all it is worth (the characteristically linguistically semi-anarchic booklet notes ask that whatever the formal departures, ‘What is all that to one if you listen so captured with pleasure?’!). From a very delicate, almost half-voiced shifting string opening, there emerges an Allegro of much energy. Tchaikovsky’s youthful vigour even reveals a certain amount of ecstasy here. A robust, almost cock-sure approach is what motivates the finale to a rousing conclusion. In between comes an ‘Alla tedesca’ with much wit in the throw-away woodwind phrasing (the ‘semplice’ marking is especially well realised), an Andante elegiaco that includes some remarkably bare scoring (almost dismembered here, in fact), and a Scherzo that features gossamer-light wind/string exchanges. Fedoseyev makes a most convincing case for a work that is all too often overshadowed by the massive emotions of the Fourth Symphony.

Similarly, the twenty-minute Fantasy-Overture Hamlet is all too often side-lined in favour of Romeo and Juliet, so it is good to get a chance to re-acquaint oneself with the former here. Written in 1888 and dedicated to Grieg, Fedoseyev gives an unashamedly Romantic account. The introduction has a decidedly elemental aspect to it - a sense of longing coupled with a real dramatic sweep is viscerally conveyed. Some preternaturally expressive oboe playing portrays Ophelia. As a performance, this does not displace the white-hot Stokowski (New York Stadium Orchestra in 1958, on Dell’Arte CDDA9006), yet it is several blocks ahead of De Priest’s earth-bound, careful, uninvolving attempt on Delos, for example (DE3081). In terms of intelligence of coupling and excellence of realisation, this is a very recommendable disc that will not disappoint.

Colin Clarke


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