Theodore Kuchar and the excellent Ukraine Orchestra follow up their highly recommended Mussorgsky disc with an almost equally impressive Tchaikovsky collection. Once again the recording is spectacular, with striking depth and resonance. The orchestra is set slightly back, so you need to set the volume a little higher than usual. The playing is most impressive. After the opening fanfare, Kuchar’s Capriccio italien relaxes warmly, yet like the perky coda of Marche slave, brings a vivid accelerando in the closing pages. Romeo and Juliet is very well laid out. Spacious and exciting the reading is not individually distinctive but has plenty of romantic feeling. Like the Gopak in the Mussorgsky programme, the Dance of the Tumblers from The snow Maiden makes a lively central interlude, and the closing 1812 generates plenty Russian colouring, at the same time reminding the listener how characterfully tuneful it is. Kuchar presses forward excitingly to a very spectacular climax, where the superbly resonant carillon all but dwarfs the cannon. While there are other more distinctive versions of some of these pieces, this collection is very enjoyable overall and excellent value.
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