The Storm op. 76/Tchaikovsky
April 19, 2014
Written in 1864 while Tchaikovsky was still a student as an assignment to do an overture for an opera, he wrote the overture based on a play by Ostrovsky Groza. Tchaikovsky met Ostrovsky as a result of his love for card playing. The work wasn’t performed during his lifetime, the first performance being conducted by Alexander Glazunov in 1896. Given the higher opus number Tchaikovsky reworked this piece and the result is a very listenable dramatic piece. What Rubinstein was brutally critical about, Cui called it “a museum of anti-musical curiosities,” John Warrack, a biographer of Tchaikovsky, called it “a remarkable powerful work….”
The work uses a Russian folksong that Mussorgsky also used in his Khovanshchinai and Tchaikovsky recycled in his seldom played Overture in F Minor, that wasn’t discovered until 1922. There is a similarity in style and orchestration to his often played Romeo and Juliet. There are storm sequences with swirling ominous strings and loud percussion and brass. There are two quiet scenes which offer themes on a romantic dreamy level but you’ll learn as you listen to this work that it is an emotional rollercoaster. Not any one theme lasts and is developed for any length of time.
There are several recordings of this work and the time varies between 11 and 14 minutes. While the Chandos recording has a biting snappy quality to it there is nothing negative about the Brilliant recording and at a little over $2.00 it is quite a bargain.