Hamlet Fantasy Overture op. 67a/Tchaikovsky
April 15, 2014
Not to be confused with the incidental music he wrote for the play which is opus 67b, the overture was written in 1888 and followed similar ideas he used in “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Tempest.” It was dedicated to Edvard Grieg who he met in 1888 and took an instant liking to. Like so many of Tchaikovsky’s works it is filled with emotional turmoil, conflict, love, and a conclusion that ties together the piece that your listening to.
It begins with a loud resonating drum roll from the timpani, a prelude to a dark dramatic theme that as it’s developed is taken through a series of inner conflict. I’m reminded of an upcoming storm as the wind is blowing. A second theme is developed with swirling strings positive brass harmony from the trumpets and trombones. As quickly as it comes to a conclusion it gives way to the oboe and a third theme this one on the tranquil side. The other winds provide unique harmony for it as it segues to the strings who add a bit of romance to it. These are happy times. The trumpets offer a fanfare with excellent trombone harmony as it seques into another conflict of good over evil. The good prevails as the oboe offers the same serene theme again. Tchaikovsky as ending returns to the original theme as he often does in his works and brings a frenzy to a peak. He ends the work on a somber funeral like note as you hear the lower strings and timpani fade into silence.
The performance of the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev, a tchaikovsian, offers a tempo that isn’t rushed. The orchestra members know the work and their playing shows this. This is an excellent performance and a worthy addition to the 55CD Tchaikovsky box set.