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Penguin Guide, January 2009

A fascinating disc containing much unknown Tchaikovsky, opening with the historic Overture to The Queen of Spades, followed by the even more melodramatic early symphonic poem, Fatum, 1868, which Tchaikovsky later destroyed and which was reassembled only after his death. What redeems both works is the undeniably Tchaikovsky lyrical inspiration, and the characteristic scoring. The same comments might apply to the Voyevoda Overture, written in the same year as Fatum and belonging to the one opera the composer destroyed. The other operas had greater or lesser success. The Maid of Orlean has now been recorded, and we know it contains some fine music. The excerpts here are attractive, as is the Cossack Dance from Cherevichki which, like the similar dance from Mazeppa, is the one familiar item. Performances are first class, full of Russian vitality, and the recording most vivid. An unmissable bargain for keen Tchaikovkians.



Murray Black
Limelight Magazine, August 2006

This is one of the best of the many Naxos recordings by this underrated orchestra. Their lush, rich sonorities and expressive phrasing, leavened by rhythmic verve and lightness of touch, are just right in Tchaikovsky. They capture the evocative drama of the overtures and the sparkling qualities of the attractive dances with equal aplomb. Irresistibly appealing, especially at the budget price.



Murray Black
Limelight Magazine, August 2006

This is one of the best of the many Naxos recordings by this underrated orchestra. Their lush, rich sonorities and expressive phrasing, leavened by rhythmic verve and lightness of touch, are just right in Tchaikovsky. They capture the evocative drama of the overtures and the sparkling qualities of the attractive dances with equal aplomb. Irresistibly appealing, especially at the budget price.



John Grant
Fine Music, August 2006


Recorded in 2000 in Kiev, this is an entertaining disc of little known Tchaikovsky from some of his 12 operas. Kuchar is a good musician and has moved onto some regional orchestras in the USA but he made some strong discs with this orchestra (a superb Prokofiev Sixth) and they clearly approved of his enthusiastic leadership. Anyone who heard them here in the Town Hall a few years ago couldn't help but admire their committed approach to Russian music. One felt that if they had access to better instruments they would have had a very nice string tone. On this disc they certainly show those qualities and also the rough-and-ready and slightly clattery sound that marks them out as a provincial band. Nothing is out of place and the notes are all played in time and generally in tune but it is an overall impression that they are tonally mediocre. The music is hugely likeable, starting with the dark opening to The Queen of Spades. Voyevode is patchy and there used to be a fine recording of that with Dorati and the Washington DC orchestra. Fatum is seldom heard and at 16 minutes is worth hearing along with the delightful dances from the other operas listed. I particularly liked those from The Maid of Orleans, Cherevichki and The Oprichnik. At $10 it's worth acquiring but be warned, there is an Eloquence release pending with much of this material plus the Eugene Onegin dances in quite magnificent performances from Colin Davis and the Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden.



David Hurwitz
ClassicsToday.com, March 2006

"This is one of those discs you might pass over if you see it in the bins, and you'd be making a big mistake. Tchaikovsky is one of those composers whose style is so personal that even its chips and discards sound characteristic, if not always as impressive as his fully realized masterpieces--and in any case many of the items in this collection show him at his best. Take the symphonic poem Fatum, which really is formally dysfunctional and hardly from Tchaikovsky's top drawer thematically. When performed as here, with a take-no-prisoners directness and excitement, it comes off as the best orchestral work that Liszt never wrote. The overture from the opera The Voyevoda (not to be confused with the late symphonic poem) is a welcome rarity--and when was the last time we had a chance to savor the prelude to The Queen of Spades as a separate item?

All of the other items are interludes and dances, and as you no doubt know, dance music almost always finds Tchaikovsky at his best. The Gopak from Mazeppa is relatively well-known, but the similar character numbers from The Maid of Orleans, Cherevichki (The Slippers), The Enchantress, and The Oprichnik are all marvelous and well worth hearing. Best of all, Theodore Kuchar and his Ukrainian orchestra deliver powerful, thrill-packed performances full of color and rhythmic excitement. The sonics capture Tchaikovsky's vivid scoring with often overwhelming impact: bass drum and cymbals leap from the speakers, while the brass bellow powerfully, hovering on the edge of that splendidly muscular vulgarity that seems to have disappeared from today's Russian orchestras. In short, this disc offers nearly 70 minutes of pure enjoyment."






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1:55:51 PM, 20 April 2014
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