What a good idea to couple Tchaikovsky's three fantasy overtures inspired by Shakespeare. José Serebrier writes an illuminating note on the genesis of each of the three, together with an analysis of their structure. He notes that once Tchaikovsky had established his concept of the fantasy overture in the first version of Romeo andJuliet in 1869 – slow introduction leading to alternating fast and slow sections, with slow coda – he used it again both in the 1812 Overture and Hamlet. The Tempest (1873) has similarly contrasting sections, but begins and ends with a gently evocative seascape, with shimmering arpeggios from strings divided in 13 parts. It's typical of Serebrier's performance that he makes that effect sound so fresh and original. In many ways, early as it is, this is stylistically the most radical of the three overtures here, with sharp echoes of Berlioz in some of the woodwind effects. The clarity of Serebrier's performance, both in texture and in structure, helps to bring that out, as does a warm and analytical BIS recording. Hamlet, dating from much later, is treated to a similarly fresh and dramatic reading, with Serebrier bringing out the yearningly Russian flavour of the lovely oboe theme representing Ophelia.
Maria Kochetkova is exceptional as Juliet, her movements always graceful, supple and beautiful. Her facial expressions early in the ballet radiate an ingratiating childlike innocence and joy, but in the darker and more tragic moments later on transform subtly to frustration, fear and sadness. She is a fine actress and a great dancer. Davit Karapetyan makes a splendid Romeo: his dance scenes with Juliet exude passion and deep love, and his sword fight with Tybalt divulges both exceptional athleticism and gracefulness. Luke Ingham in the role of Tybalt is also very convincing, both in his dancing and acting skills. (Robert Cummings, Classical Net)