The suites from Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's ballets The Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and Nutcracker are among his most played pieces, but the music from his operas is much less familiar to western concert-goers. To solve this problem, composer and conductor Peter Breiner has created orchestral suites containing music from The Queen of Spades and The Voyevoda, operas that are largely unfamiliar to U.S. audiences in any format. Breiner's adaptations are highly melodic, memorable, and highly dramatic, in keeping with the opera's stories, and his richly romantic orchestration is idiomatic and judicious. The performances by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra with Breiner conducting are full of energy and enthusiasm, and the project evidently captured the musicians' imagination, considering how vibrantly expressive and colorful their playing is. Especially notable are the adapted arias by violinist Vesa-Matti Leppänen and cellist Andrew Joyce in The Voyevoda suite, which convey an operatic spirit in instrumental form. These 2012 recordings are vibrant and strong, and the sound is full and detailed, with a natural concert hall ambience that isn't too resonant.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|The Queen of Spades|