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Title:Tchaikovsky: Hamlet, Op. 67 (with Score)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Hamlet, fantasy-overture for orchestra in F minor, Op. 67, TH 53, ČW 50 (with Score) Composed: 1888 Conductor: Mikhail Pletnev Orchestra: Russian National Orchestra There has been some confusion concerning the identity of this Hamlet. Tchaikovsky was commissioned to compose incidental music for a St. Petersburg staging of Shakespeare's Hamlet, but failed to meet the deadline. Instead, he produced this tone poem in 1888, assigning the opus number 67. Three years later, he did compose music for the play, designating that effort Op. 67a. Some catalogs, however, have listed the fantasy overture as Op. 67a and the incidental music as Op. 67b, and both, of course, are incorrect. This colorful tone poem differs from most of Tchaikovsky's others in that rather than portraying events, it depicts the character of Hamlet. There is a strong similarity between the opening theme here and the one that launches the composer's Manfred Symphony (1885). Some have also pointed out a structural similarity between Hamlet and Strauss' Don Juan (1889). This Tchaikovsky work is powerfully dramatic and brilliantly scored, but Shakespeare's Danish Prince does not quite inspire the composer the way his teenage lovers Romeo and Juliet had. Still, the themes here are attractive, especially the mellow, somewhat lonely melody on oboe, and the work is generally well crafted. In the end, this is a solid but minor composition from Tchaikovsky's pen. It lasts about 17 to 18 minutes in a typical performance. (


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