Pyotr Illich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) – Symphony No. 1 in G minor, ‘Winter Dreams’, Op.13, Festival Overture in E-flat major, ‘1812 Ouverture’, Op.49

frontTchaikovsky é um dos compositores favoritos deste que vos escreve e também de muitos que conheço. Amo a sua obra, ela é intensamente romântica, explora os mais profundos rincões da alma humana. Por isso inicio hoje uma semana dedicada ao compositor russo. Ou duas, dependendo da recepção que estas postagens terão. Começo com as duas primeiras sinfonias.
O texto abaixo é do booklet que acompanha a coleção Tchaikovsky Edition:

Symphony No.1 Op.13 ‘Winter Dreams’

If Tchaikovsky had chosen a godfather for his first symphony, the selection likely would have fallen upon Nicolai Rubinstein. The great Russian pianist, conductor and pedagogue was Tchaikovsky’s first employer in the musical field; it was Rubinstein who offered the 25-year-old former law clerk a position as a professor of harmony at the Moscow Conservatory. Gratified that one so prominent would have faith in one so little known, Tchaikovsky accepted the offer and in January, 1866, moved from St. Petersburg to Moscow to begin teaching.
It was a difficult transition. Tchaikovsky felt himself ill-prepared for the assignment, and was unnerved by Rubinstein’s domineering personality. Yet a man unconvinced of his own skills often puts forth his best effort when a more confident man drives him onward, and such was the case with Tchaikovsky. Not only did he settle into the obligations of teaching. He also began composing works grander and more ambitious than any he had previously attempted. His First Symphony, begun early in this same year, was undertaken at Rubinstein’s specific urging. The mental strain of writing the piece brought Tchaikovsky to the verge of a nervous breakdown, and harsh criticisms of colleagues led him to doubt the excellence of his effort. His crippling uncertainty delayed the score’s completion until November, but once the symphony was finally
finished, Tchaikovsky dedicated it to Rubinstein.
Although the young composer had produced a standard four-movement symphony, early audiences might have been unaware of the fact, for over a year passed before the composition was heard in its entirety. In December 1866, Rubinstein conducted a premiere that comprised only the third movement scherzo. Two months later, the second and third movements were heard, but it was not until February 3, 1868 that the
entire work was performed. The piece was well-received at that time, but Tchaikovsky, setting a pattern that he would follow with many later works, decided that the audience was mistaken, that the symphony was not particularly well-crafted and that it needed further work. He set about revising the score and did not allow its publication until 1875. But through all those years and even afterward, Tchaikovsky retained a measure of fondness for the piece, describing it as ‘a sin of my sweet youth’. He o nce observed, ‘although it is immature in many respects, it is essentially better and richer in content than many other, more mature works.’
Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony carries the subtitle ‘Winter Dreams’, a theme carried onward by its first two movements, which the composer labelled ‘Dreams of a Winter Journey’ and ‘Land of Desolation, Land of Mists’. Yet there is nothing cold-hearted about the work. Those seeking the ‘misty desolation’ of a winter on the steppes will not find it here, for of all Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, this one bears the aura of optimism. Listen particularly to the exuberance of the final movement: if this is a Russian winter, then it must be a winter carnival, with boisterous crowds skating and laughing as the sunshine sparkles on the snow.

Ouverture Solennelle ‘1812’ Op.49
In 1880 Tchaikovsky was asked to write a festival piece commemorating the Battle of Borodino, the burning of Moscow and Napoleon’s retreat from the self-sacrificed city. The occasion was the consecration of the Cathedral of the Savior, and the new work was to be performed in the Cathedral Square, with cannon firing in the final section signifying the Russian triumph. At about the same time, Nicolas Rubinstein offered Tchaikovsky a commission for a similar work to be performed at the Moscow Exhibition of Art and Industry. Apparently Tchaikovsky felt he was not a composer of ‘festival  pieces’ and could not be persuaded in time for the Cathedral ceremony. He did accept a definite commission for the Exhibition, for he wrote to Mme. Von Meck on October 22, 1880, to advise that he was composing a ‘big, solemn overture for the Exhibition… very showy and noisy, but it will have no artistic merit because I wrote it without warmth and without love.’ In any event, the consecration of the  Cathedral passed without
the music, which was performed at the Exhibition on August 20, 1882.

01. Symphony No. 1 in G minor, ‘Winter Dreams’, Op.13 – I. ‘Daydreams Of A Winter Journey’ – Allegro tranquillo
02. Symphony No. 1 in G minor, ‘Winter Dreams’, Op.13 – II. ‘Land Of Gloom, Land Of Mist’ – Adagio cantabile, ma non tanto
03. Symphony No. 1 in G minor, ‘Winter Dreams’, Op.13 – III. Scherzo. Allegro scherzando giocoso
04. Symphony No. 1 in G minor, ‘Winter Dreams’, Op.13 – IV. Finale. Andante lugubre; allegro moderato

Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio
Vladimir Fedoseyev – Conductor

05. Festival Overture in E-flat major, ‘1812 Ouverture’, Op.49

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Alexander Gibson – Conductor


Symphony No.2 Op.17 ‘Little Russian’

Tchaikovsky’s Second Symphony was premiered in 1873 by Rubinstein, who also undertook the first performances of the First, Third and Fourth Symphonies, and other important Tchaikovsky compositions from these early years. The symphony is, in part, a nod to popular trends of the day, trends that encouraged the use of indigenous folk music in serious concert works. This tendency is particularly notable in compositions by the Hungarian Franz Liszt, the Norwegian Edvard Grieg and the Bohemian Antonín Dvorák. Tchaikovsky’s countrymen Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov were also drawn to folk music, and he himself was not immune. Curiously, though, the songs quoted in this symphony are not strictly Russian in origin; they are Ukrainian songs, featured at three moments in the work: the introduction to the first movement, the main theme of the second movement, and the introduction to the final movement. This would not be Tchaikovsky’s only musical visit to Ukraine. The First Piano Concerto, which would be his next major composition, also includes a Ukrainian theme. Because Russians of Tchaikovsky’s time referred to Ukraine as ‘Little Russia’, the Second Symphony has since become known as the ‘Little Russian’ Symphony, a nickname not chosen by the composer himself.

Francesca da Rimini Op.32

Francesca da Rimini, written at the height of the composer’s orchestral mastery in 1876, is the most powerfully dramatic of Tchaikovsky’s symphonic poems. The score is refaced by a quotation from the Fifth Canto of Dante’s Inferno. This describes the punishment of those who succumbed to sensual desires in their earthly lives, and whose fate was to be tormented in Stygian darkness, buffeted by violent, tempestuous winds. never to find peace. Among those so tortured was Francesca da Rimini, who comes forward to tell her story. As with the heroine of his early masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet, and with Tatiana in his opera, Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky identified completely with Francesca, and he portrays her with one of his loveliest melodies. But first he sets the scene, and in the introductory Andante lugubre creates an ominously powerful sense of foreboding. Then in the Allegro which follows, with shrieking woodwinds, pungent brass and whirling strings, he achieves a formidable evocation of the tempestuous Inferno. Finally the gales subside and Francesca is introduced alluringly with a limpid clarinet solo. Her melody is restated in different orchestral guises as she tells of her love for Paolo, and later Tchaikovsky introduces another theme, of gentle ecstasy, played by the cor anglais against warmly romantic harp roulades. But the illicit lovers are discovered by Francesca’s husband and there is a great polyphonic climax in the strings, with the bass adding to the emotional turmoil, before the vividly depicted moment of their murder.
Francesca steps back and disappears into the Inferno, and Tchaikovsky’s dramatic reprise of the setting of her eternal punishment leads to a searing final climax, when the sense of an irreversibly tragic destiny is hammered out in violent dischords, with great clashes on the orchestral tam-tam adding to the sense of utter despair.

01. Symphony No. 2 in C minor, ‘Little Russian’, Op.17 – I. Andante sostenuto; allegro vivo
02. Symphony No. 2 in C minor, ‘Little Russian’, Op.17 – II. Andantino marziale; quasi moderato
03. Symphony No. 2 in C minor, ‘Little Russian’, Op.17 – III. Scherzo. Allegro molto vivace
04. Symphony No. 2 in C minor, ‘Little Russian’, Op.17 – IV. Finale. Moderato assai
05. Symphonic Fantasia in E minor after Dante, ‘Francesca da Rimini’

Philharmonia Orchestra
Yuri Simonov – Conductor


3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Muito obrigado pela postagem Fdpbach! Já ouvindo por aqui….
    Você pensa em postar todo o box, com os 60 cds? Se você for, já estou aguardando por aqui. De qualquer modo, obrigado pela postagem dos dois cds!

    1. Pois é, Adolfo, estou pensando seriamente… mas trata-se de projeto longo, que requer planejamento. E ultimamente ando meio sem tempo, para variar. A correria do dia a dia nos deixar muito esgotados, então quando chego em casa nem ligo o computador. A maior parte de minhas postagens é feita durante o final de semana.

  2. FdpBach – Gostaria que você postasse tudo o que tem no acervo, mas sei que é impossível. Assim, poste o que você puder e gostar num ritmo não frenético mas calmo, que agrade a grêgos e troianos e ao mesmo tempo preserve a sua saúde, cá para nós o bem mais precioso que existe.
    Quero também aproveitar e dizer que estas palavras eu também dedico ao Ranulfus. Endosso o côro com Avicenna dizendo: FICA RANULFUS.

    grande abraço

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