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Overture in C minor

Thank you for this wonderful and educational site. It is great to have such a wealth of information about my favorite composer in one place.

I am curious about the connection between Tchaikovsky's Overture in C minor and the overture to The Storm. Could the C minor overture be regarded as an expanded or revised version of the earlier piece, or did the composer simply incorporate some themes and passages from The Storm into the later work? To what extent are these two overtures related?

I vaguely recall seeing a Kalmus miniature score of the Overture in C minor in my local music store many years ago (I regret that I didn't buy it at the time), but I don't believe the piece has ever been recorded. I find this surprising, especially since David Brown (in Tchaikovsky: the Early Years) suggests that it is a superior work to the Overture in F. Are there sets of orchestral parts available for the C minor overture, and is this overture ever performed?

With sincere thanks,

Nicolas Krusek
Vancouver, Canada

The Overture in C minor dates from 1865—one year after The Storm, and both were written as summer compositional exercises as part of Tchaikovsky's studies at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory (although the C-minor Overture was orchestrated just after Tchaikovsky's graduation). Neither piece was heard during the composer's lifetime.

The introductory themes from The Storm were expanded and modified in the C-minor overture, but after these initial 90 bars the two pieces go their separate ways, apart from a brief restatement in each of the folksong The Young Maiden Walked So Far [Исходила младенька] before the recapitulation.

Although Tchaikovsky went so far as to write "loathsome rubbish" on the manuscript of the Overture in C minor, he must have felt that the attractive central section was worth perserving, since he re-used it in his first opera he Voevoda (1868), together with extracts from The Storm. It eventually received its premiere in 1931, and was published for the first time in 1952.

To the best of my knowledge the overture has only been recorded twice—both times by the USSR Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Lazarev and Evgenii Svetlanov respectively. Neither of these versions have been issued on CD, but Lazarev's version will be broadcast as part of BBC Radio 3's Tchaikovsky Festival next February.

In the meantime you might like to hear my computer-generated MP3 file of the overture (9.24Mb, 13: 27 mins), which should give a flavour of the music.

Brett Langston

A few weeks ago I wrote a message asking whether there are any recordings of Tchaikovsky's virtually unknown Overture in C minor. As luck would have it, last week I was in a music store in Prague (Bontonland on Wenceslas Square) and I found a newly released (2006) CD recording of the C minor Overture, performed by Evgeny Svetlanov and the USSR State Academic Symphony Orchestra. It is a great performance of this neglected work, coupled with a riveting accound of the First Symphony. Unfortunately, the CD booklet contains no information about the date or location of the recording.

At the same music store I also found another rarity: Samuel Samossud's 1954 recording of The Enchantress (complete opera), released on CD by Preisser Records. Two great finds in one day!

Nicolas Krusek
Vancouver, Canada

With regard to recordings of the C-minor Overture, i have an LP with the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ye. Akulov (on Melodiya: 33C 021477/78(a). In addition this LP also contains a recording of the Overture in F (1866), Overture to The Voevoda, the choral work "To Sleep" (1863–64) and "Couplets of Count Almaviva" (The Barber of Seville).

Svein Hundsnes

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This page was last updated on 05 November 2013