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Tchaikovsky: Orchestral Works - Chauhan

Tchaikovsky: Orchestral Works - Chauhan

Chandos  CHSA 5300

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Tchaikovsky:
The Voyevoda, Op. 78
La Tempête (The Tempest), Op. 18
Overture and Polonaise from ''Cherevichki''
Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Alpesh Chauhan (conductor)


Born in Birmingham, Alpesh Chauhan studied cello under Eduardo Vassallo at the Royal Northern College of Music, in Manchester, before pursuing the College’s prestigious Master’s Conducting Course. He has studied with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, participated in master-classes with Juanjo Mena, Vasily Petrenko, and Jac van Steen, and was mentored by Andris Nelsons and Edward Gardner in his post as Assistant Conductor of the CBSO in 2014 – 16. Newly appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker from the 2021 / 22 season, he is also Associate Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of Birmingham Opera Company. He frequently appears as guest conductor with acclaimed international orchestras including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre national d’Île de France, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

For this his début recording for Chandos, he has chosen a collection of Tchaikovsky’s symphonic fantasias, alongside the Overture and Polonaise from the comic opera Cherevichki. La Tempête, from 1873, is based on Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, and shows that Tchaikovsky’s unique voice and style were already fully developed. Francesca da Rimini (based on the tale in Dante’s Inferno) was written only a few years later but after Tchaikovsky had attended the première of Wagner’s Ring cycle, in Bayreuth – an influence discernible particularly in the brass chords. Cherevichki (The Slippers) is a revision of his earlier opera Vakula the Smith, based on Gogol’s Christmas Eve. Tchaikovsky’s Symphonic Ballad The Voyevoda is based on Adam Mickiewicz’s poem The Ambush, and is the first orchestral work to include the (newly invented) celeste.

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Review by Graham Williams - June 20, 2023

In the concert hall one would be fortunate to encounter any three out of the four Tchaikovsky works on this fine Chandos SACD. Only Francesca da Rimini, the final item on this generous (78.12) Tchaikovsky collection, could be considered a staple item, but it is more than welcome here in this thrilling performance from the young British conductor Alpesh Chauhan and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

The first item on this disc is ‘The Voyevoda’ (1890-91), a symphonic ballad based on a poem by the Polish Adam Mickiewicz (translated into Russian by Alexander Pushkin), It depicts the story of a military commander (‘voyevoda’) and his discovery of his wife’s unfaithfulness that results in dire, if unexpected, consequences. Chauhan’s account of the score is vividly pungent and is certainly a match for the only other modern version to appear on SACD from Neeme Järvi Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 - Järvi .

‘The Tempest’, the earliest of the composer’s works inspired by Shakespeare (the others being ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’) comes next. The score is prefaced with a programme that Tchaikovsky closely follows in his music: “The Sea. The magician Prospero commands his spirit Ariel to create a storm, of which a victim is the fortunate Ferdinand. The enchanted island. The first timid stirrings of love between Ferdinand and Miranda. Ariel. Caliban. The lovers are overwhelmed by their passion. Prospero renounces his magical powers and leaves the island. The Sea.”. This fantasia lasting almost 23 minutes is performed with considerable panache by the BBC Scottish Symphony and Chauhan’s pacing of this riveting score displays all the musical and dramatic purpose that one could wish for.

New to me are the ‘Overture and Polonaise’ from Tchaikovsky’s 1885 opera ‘Cherevichki’. Both are full of engaging melodies and scored with the composer’s customary brilliance.

Finally we have the aforementioned ‘Francesca da Rimini’. Here Chauhan is up against considerable competition, notably on SACD from Stokowski’s electrifying 1974 version with the LSO in Pentatone’s RQR series. Tchaikovsky: Orchestral Works - Stokowski and Pletnev’s urgent account on the same label Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 - Pletnev.
However that said, listeners are unlikely to be disappointed by this conductor’s masterly and sympathetic reading of the piece.

Though the acoustic of City Halls, Glasgow where this programme was recorded (18-20 July 2022) is bright and quite reverberant, the familiar Chandos team (recording engineer Ralph Couzens and producer Brian Pidgeon) have done marvellous job in balancing clarity and richness with very little loss of detail.

This consistently compelling release is highly recommended.

Copyright © 2023 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net

Performance:

Sonics (Multichannel):

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Comment by john hunter - June 28, 2023 (1 of 3)

Can only second Graham's review.
An exciting issue very well recorded.
Bravo Chandos!!!

Comment by John Broggio - July 8, 2023 (2 of 3)

Completely agree; it's so good to finally have a well performed account of The Tempest in high-resolutio sound. I had hoped that one might appear with Pletnev's symphony cycle on Pentatone or Kitaenko's on Oehms Classics but it was not to be.

For fans of this piece, it's worth the price of the disk by itself although it doesn't fully displace Abbado's electrifying account with the Berliners live from the Vasa Museum (Stockholm) in their 1998 Europakonzert (paired generously with equally recommendable accounts of Wagner's overture to Der fliegende Holländer, Debussy's Nocturnes & Verdi's Quattro Pezzi Sacri; I have it as an individual disc but it's also in a marvellous boxset of all the Europakonzerts between 1991 and 2021).

The sound afforded to Abbado is naturally not as good as a modern recording in studio conditions can manage but it's still reasonably impressive, so it's perhaps an account to live alongside but not in preference to this very commendable interpretation.

Comment by Kannan - April 26, 2024 (3 of 3)

Alpesh Chauhan and the orchestra just rock on these two discs. Thank you for not recording a Mahler or Tchaikovsky 4 again, instead giving us these gems. Fabulous recording, performance and presence on these discs. Very highly recommended.