- The Tempest, fantasy-overture for orchestra in F minor, Op. 18
- Symphony No. 1 in G minor ("Winter Dreams"), Op. 13
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For this 2017 Harmonia Mundi release, Pablo Heras-Casado and the Orchestra of St. Luke's present two of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's early works, the "Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Winter Dreams, Op. 13," and the symphonic fantasia after Shakespeare, "The Tempest, Op. 18." While the symphony in its original form failed to please Tchaikovsky's conservative teachers, Anton Rubinstein and Nikolai Zaremba, its revised version was one of the young composer's earliest successes with an audience and proved that his talents for long-breathed melodies and rich orchestration were no impediments to working in symphonic form. Heras-Casado and the St. Luke's orchestra give a moody and evocative performance, and the wintry atmosphere and luminous scene painting of the first three movements may impress listeners more than the finale, which seems forced, episodic, and academic, even in the best hands. Essentially a tone poem with a loose program, "The Tempest" is less problematic than the symphony in its formal aspects, and in several ways it anticipates the fantasy overture "Romeo and Juliet," not least in its dramatic action music but also in its characteristic love theme. This performance is warm and passionate, and Heras-Casado and his musicians give it rhythmic vitality where the music needs it. The recorded sound in both works is vivid and spacious, and approaches audiophile quality in its crisp details and transparent tone colors.
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