It is remarkably
fitting that this collection of balletic morsels from the Tchaikovsky
operas should have been recorded by an opera-house orchestra.
The wild-card is Colin Davis who is no stranger to the opera
house but is not the first name you link with Tchaikovsky. In
fact all is well from the get-go.
Davis turns in rattlingly
vital performances aided by a nicely present abrasion to the
brass. He is perhaps a mite too fast in the Onegin Valse
but its stateliness s not compromised. This was an unusual
collection – although there has more recently been something
similar from Naxos – in that we get dance episodes from the
rarer operas. However from Onegin we get a sliver of
a dance never previously excerpted in the shape of the rapid-breathless
Ecossaise. The Entr’acte from The Maid of
Orleans has more of a flavour of the symphonic Tchaikovsky
with a deeper emotional reach and a broader passion. The rustic
Danse des bohémiens occasionally sounds like Greg but
the bright Danse des polichinelles et des histrions nicely
recalls the Fifth Symphony. The Oprichnik – Danses drifts
in style between Borodin-Rimsky and a sound that I associate
with Ketèlbey. The Introduction to The Sorceress is an
operatic prelude again moving within the stylistic bounds marked
out by the Balakirev and Borodin overtures. Cherevichki (not
‘Cherevinchki’ as it appears on the cover of the booklet) again
has that Kouchka redolence but one of the ideas in the Introduction
sounds like the Fourth Symphony or arts of Nutcracker.
The Danse russe is gentle and chimingly effective with
some flavour of Mozart’s music for wind ensemble at 1:02. The
disc ends with Danse des cosaques and not surprisingly
this returns us explosively to the world of the Russian nationalists.
The modest playing
time betrays the collection’s LP origins.
An unhackneyed sample of the operatic-balletic Tchaikovsky culled
from the well known and the neglected operas – brilliant performed