Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Andrew Palmer
Group Editor
1:01 AM 30th March 2024

Classical Music: Tchaikovsky: Orchestral Works, Vol 2

Tchaikovsky: Orchestral Works, Vol 2

Hamlet, Op. 67; Fatum, Op. posth. 77; Capriccio italien, Op. 45; Introduction to ‘The Queen of Spades’, Op. 68; Dances from ‘The Oprichnik’; Movements from ‘The Snow Maiden’, Op. 12.

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Alpesh Chauhan

Chandos CHSA 5331

I was excited by the first volume of Alpesh Chauhan’s enthusiastic interpretations of Tchaikovsky’s orchestral works ( Classical Music: Tchaikovsky), and this album is no different. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, again performing in Glasgow’s City Halls, have a striking effervescence and are recorded with typical Chandos precision. 

The beauty of this volume is that it has several unfamiliar works that are by no means to be underestimated; the rarities are marvellous, and resurrecting them, I hope, will lead to more concert hall programming.

Tchaikovsky's Fatum (an early concert piece inspired by and dedicated to Balakirev) was reconstructed from the original orchestral parts by Mitrofan Belyayev, with the posthumous opus number 77. It is an early work with lovely orchestration that was well received but later destroyed by Tchaikovsky. Despite its theme—fate—it is more optimistic with lively lyricism than one would expect from Tchaikovsky.

The orchestra shines in excerpts from The Oprichnik (an early opera) and The Snow Maiden (incidental music for a play by Ostrovsky), with the woodwind in excellent form, wonderful brass, and rhythmic clarity. The strings deliver beautifully, with some expressive playing. Melodrama is sensitively portrayed. The Dance of the Tumblers shows Chauhan’s control, and though it is not as well-known as Rimsky-Korsakov’s dance, (a work that I regularly performed when growing up at a local orchestra), it is still infused with fun and a lovely way to round off the disc.

Hamlet, the last of his Shakespeare-inspired pieces, is given a solid performance; it is not quite as exciting as Romeo & Juliet, but the BBC SSO brings out many lovely moments and, as with the overall playing, colours numerous phrases with marvellous sensitivity and conviction. The compelling short introduction to The Queen of Spades is a gorgeous four minutes of resonant playing, while Capriccio italien is perhaps the most familiar work on this second volume. The brass is excellent at the start, and the orchestra captures the spirit with driving momentum and sparkling passion.

This is a splendid volume and a welcome addition to the catalogues.