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CD Review

Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky

Works Inspired by Shakespeare

  • Hamlet Fantasy Overture, Op. 67
  • The Tempest - Symphonic fantasy overture Op. 18
  • Roméo and Juliet Fantasy Overture (1880 version)
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/José Serebrier
BIS CD-1073 62m DDD
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I had already waxed lyrical on Serebrier's previous Tchaikovsky disc on BIS which had a white-hot Fourth Symphony and an unforgettable 'Francesca da Rimini'. This disc continues to confirm Serebrier's hugely impressive credentials in this composer's music with three of the most popular works in Shakespearean guise given fantastic performances.

'Hamlet' is a veritable pot boiler with some beautiful work for strings and woodwind and in Serebrier's hands; the work grows to a palpable climax of almost apocalyptic proportions, on all counts a fantastic experience. My previous benchmark was Maazel in a 1971 Decca recording, but this new version throws that relay out of the window. The similarly wonderful 'The Tempest' is also quite amazingly done with the Bamberg strings on top form throughout, especially in the deeply felt melodies towards the end of this tragic work. Finally we have 'Roméo and Juliet', this fairly leaps from the pages of the score with such unaffected beauty that even the countless versions heard before by Edwards, Maazel, Stokowski et al are quite superseded.

I advise all seasoned Tchaikovskians to immediately track down this disc!

Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech