Ontem fiquei por três horas cozinhando em fogo lento em um congestionamento gigantesco, voltando das festas de Natal, e pensando no que iria postar quando chegasse em casa. Curiosamente, o congestionamento, assim como surgiu desapareceu, sumiu, escafedeu-se. E pude concluir minha viagem. Mas enfim, vamos ao que viemos.
Nada que escreva vai mudar o fato de que este Concerto para Piano de Tchaikovsky é com certeza uma das maiores criações do ser humano, desde que o dito cujo começou a se expressar artisticamente, lá nos tempos da Idade da Pedra.
Junte-se a isso três cúmplices peso pesadíssimos (tudo superlativo aqui hoje), Emil Gilels, Fritz Reiner e Sinfônica de Chicago. Fala sério, você ainda não correu para baixar esse CD? Faz o favor, né?
P.S. Claro que Emil Gilels gravou essa obra em outras ocasiões, mas convenhamos, o que ele faz aqui é coisa de outro mundo, se é que me entendem.
P.S2. Não, não tem os excertos do Quebra Nozes neste CD. Apenas o Concerto, talquei?
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in B-flat minor op. 23
1 I Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso – Allegro con spirito 20:20
2 II Andantino semplice – Prestissimo – Tempo I
3 III Allegro con fuoco – Allegro vivo
Emil Gilels piano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Fritz Reiner conductor
Lembram daquela série interminável de discos da Philips — lançados nos anos 70 e 80 — que eram seleções malucas de clássicos e que tinham gatinhos na capa? Ali, o Aleluia de Händel podia vir antes de um trecho de Rhapsody in Blue, o qual era seguido pela Abertura 1812 e pela chamada Ária na Corda Sol (mentira, corda sol coisa nenhuma) de Bach, por exemplo. Salada semelhante é servida por Khatia Buniatishvili neste CD. Mas o importante é faturar enquanto a beleza não abandona a pianista. Ela tem alguns anos de sucesso ainda. Como habitualmente, neste disco ela é muita emoção e languidez — principalmente a última –, acompanhada de um talento que não precisaria ter registros gravados. Temos tanta gente melhor! Depois deste disco altamente suspeito, ela sucumbe aqui. Só a aparência não basta. Afinal, ouvimos o CD. Vocês sabem que eu amo as belas musicistas, mas tudo tem limite.
1 Johann Sebastian Bach: Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd, BWV 208: IX. Schafe können sicher weiden (Arr. for Piano)
2 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The Seasons, Op. 37b: X. October (Autumn Song)
3 Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Lied ohne Worte in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 67/2
4 Claude Debussy: Suite Bergamasque, L. 75: III. Clair de lune
5 Giya Kancheli: Tune from the Film by Lana Gogoberidze: When Almonds Blossomed
6 György Ligeti: Musica ricercata No. 7 in B-Flat Major
7 Johannes Brahms: Intermezzo in B-Flat Minor, Op. 117/2
8 Franz Liszt: Wiegenlied, S. 198
9 Antonín Dvorák: Slavonic Dance for Four Hands in E Minor, Op. 72/2: Dumka (Allegretto grazioso)
10 Maurice Ravel: Pavane pour une infante défunte in G Major, M. 19
11 Frédéric Chopin: Etude in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 25/7
12 Alexander Scriabin: Etude in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 2/1
13 Domenico Scarlatti: Sonata in E Major, K. 380
14 Edvard Grieg: Lyric Piece in E Minor, Op. 57/6: Homesickness
15 Traditional: Vagiorko mai / Don’t You Love Me?
16 Wilhelm Kempff: Suite in B-Flat Major, HWV 434: IV. Menuet
17 Arvo Pärt: Für Alina in B Minor
Pois a história de Grigoriy Sedukh e seus violinos miúdos não parou em sua gravação que apresentamos ontem: esses instrumentos são apenas três duma série de oito, concebidos e confeccionados pela luthier Carleen Hutchins para reproduzir, em diferentes tamanhos, as qualidades sônicas do violino.
A luthier buscava criar um conjunto de instrumentos, ao estilo dos consorts de violas do século XVII, que tivessem características sonoras homogêneas, baseadas no violino. Seu trabalho, que envolveu colaboração com físicos, resultou num octeto de instrumentos que vão do sopranino ao contrabaixo, mas que são, essencialmente, violinos.
Um desses instrumentos, o violino contralto, foi usado por Yo Yo Ma para tocar o Concerto para viola de Bartók, com recepção mista. Alguns saudaram o som como “revelador”, mas muita gente estranhou. A riqueza de timbre da viola se perde em prol de mais brilho e projeção, que é… bem, justamente aquilo que a gente não espera de uma viola.
Não obstante, várias instituições dedicam-se à divulgação do legado de Hutchins, alguns com devoção quase religiosa a sua figura, e comissionando novas composições para o peculiar conjunto instrumental.
Nesse álbum, gravado no que parece ser um congresso da The New Violin Family Association, várias peças de exibição são tocadas nos diversos instrumentos do octeto. A qualidade um tanto precária da gravação deixa para a nossa imaginação muito do tão apregoado brilho desses novos instrumentos, mas ouvir a Fantasia de Vaughan Williams tocada por eles, numa massa sonora mais homogênea que uma orquestra de cordas moderna, faz pensar que o sonho de Hutchins pode ter virado realidade.
Desde a primeira vez em que escutei os Concertos de Brandenburg de Bach, chamou-me a atenção aquele violininho serelepe e pungente a buscar espaço com valentia em meio aos tantos sopros do Concerto no. 1:
Nunca mais ouvi falar do tal violino piccolo, de tamanho a um violino 3/4 para jovens, com algumas diferenças de construção e que soa uma terça acima dos violinos convencionais, até encontrar alguns vídeos do ucraniano Grigoriy Sedukh tocando o que chamava de piccolo em peças convencionais do repertório violinístico.
Sem ler muito as letras miúdas, comprei seu CD (lançado pelo pitorescamente batizado selo “The Catgut Acoustic Society Co.”) para só depois descobrir – mais surpreso, talvez, que decepcionado – aquela história do gato comprado por lebre.
Pois aqui Sedukh não toca exatamente o instrumento de que Bach lançara mão, mas sim num chamado “violino sopranino”, que soa uma oitava acima do violino convencional e que tem, guardadas as proporções, as mesmas proporções deste. A gravação inclui somente uma faixa com um instrumento semelhante ao piccolo barroco, o “Adagio” de Grazioli, executado num violino dito “soprano” (uma quarta acima do convencional, mais ou menos como o piccolo), além de uma peça num “mezzo” (afinado exatamente como o convencional).
O repertório é um balaio de gatos que, obviamente, não tem razão outra de ser que não a de exibir as qualidades dos instrumentos e do intérprete. Eu acho estranho abrir uma gravação com a Polonaise de Bach, que é uma obra que parece já começar no meio, mas depois as coisas melhoram bastante. Sedukh é bom violinista e, neste pequeníssimo nicho musical, mostra-nos um bom cartão de visitas.
GRIGORYI SEDUKH – VIOLIN SOLOIST
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Suíte Orquestral no. 2 em Si menor, BWV 1067
01 – Polonaise
02 – Badinerie
Giovanni Battista GRAZIOLI (1756-1820) 03 – Adagio*
Niccoló PAGANINI(1782-1840) 04 – Sonatina no. 1 para violino e violão
05 – Sonatina no. 3 para violino e violão
Joseph Joachim RAFF (1822-1882)
06 – Cavatina, Op. 85 no. 3
Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) 07 – O Lago dos Cisnes, Op. 20 – Entrée et Adagio
08 – Álbum para a Infância, Op. 39 – no. 22: Canção da Cotovia
09 – O Lago dos Cisnes, Op. 20 – Adagio †
10 – O Lago dos Cisnes, Op. 20 – Dança Russa
Passada em revista a parte da família das cordas que é tocada com arcos, enveredamos por um outro ramo da família com quem os arcos não falam muito, pois as salas de concerto costumam torcer-lhes os narizes: aquele das cordas dedilhadas.
Antes que me joguem os tomates, ou me perguntem por que exus eu não apus a palavrinha .:interlúdio:. ao título de uma gravação, vejam só, de banjo, de BANJO, de B A N J O! incongruentemente atirada no meio das sacrossantas interpretações dos Pollinis e Bernsteins que os blogueiros não-vassílycos publicam por aqui, bem, antes que venham os apupos, os “foras!” e que me defenestrem, eu antecipadamente me defendo: Béla Fleck é um TREMENDO músico e merece ser ouvido.
Ok, o repertório do CD é um balaio de gatos cheio de figurinhas fáceis do repertório das coleções “The Best of”, só que ele é feito sob medida para Fleck exibir com sobras seu talento. Asseguro-lhes que dificilmente ouvirão um banjo ser tocado com tanta maestria, ainda mais acompanhado por músicos do naipe de, entre outros, Joshua Bell, John Williams e Edgar Meyer. No final, para relaxar, Fleck colocou uma ótima versão bluegrass do “Moto Perpétuo” de Paganini, mas ela está claramente identificada como tal e os puristas entre vós outros poderão deletá-la antes que ela fira algum ouvido.
E, se vocês acharam interessante o Fleck ter o nome de Béla, saibam que o nome completo do cavalheiro é Béla Anton Leoš Fleck. Sim: uma homenagem ao grande Béla, àquele Anton e a este Leoš.
PERPETUAL MOTION – BÉLA FLECK
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
01 – Sonata em Dó maior, K. 159
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
02 – Invenção a duas vozes no. 13 em Lá menor, BWV 784
Claude-Achille DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
03 – Children’s Corner, L. 113 – “Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum”
Fryderyk Franciszek CHOPIN (1810-1849)
04 – Mazurkas, Op. 59 – no. 3 em Fá sustenido menor
Johann Sebastian BACH
05 – Partita no. 3 em Mi maior, BWV 1006 – Prélude
Fryderyk Franciszek CHOPIN
06 – Études, Op. 10 – no. 4 em Dó sustenido menor
07 – Mazurkas, Op. 6 – no. 1 em Fá sustenido menor
Johann Sebastian BACH
08 – Invenção a três vozes (Sinfonia) em Sol maior, BWV 796
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
09 – Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op. 42 – no. 3: Mélodie
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
10 – Cinco estudos para piano, Anh. 1a/1 – no. 3 em Sol menor, após Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian BACH
11 – Suíte no. 1 em Sol maior, BWV 1007 – Prelude
12 – Invenção a três vozes (Sinfonia) em Si menor, BWV 801
Troquei o servidor para o Google Drive. Creio que agora o pessoal vai poder baixar os arquivos sem maiores problemas.
Ah, os russos… Que podemos dizer deles quando o assunto são os grandes violinistas do passado? David Oistrakh e Leonid Kogan entre outros, eram músicos excepcionais, acima da condição normal de um ser humano, eram seres iluminados, abençoados com um dom único, o de extrair de uma caixinha de madeira com quatro cordas toda a emoção que pudesse ser exposta. Não bastava o que estava no papel, havia de se ler o que estava nas entrelinhas, subentendido.
Leonid Kogan nasceu em 1924 e faleceu em 1983, em uma estação de trem, onde ia embarcar para mais uma apresentação. Foi casado com uma irmã do grande pianista Emil Gilels, que também era violinista, e pai de outro violinista. Leonid Kogan foi um gigante absoluto do instrumento, e neste CD toca cinco peças básicas do repertório do instrumento. Senti falta do Concerto de Mendelssohn, mas tudo bem. Kogan só foi apresentado ao Ocidente em 1958, tocando exatamente o Concerto de Brahms, e fez um sucesso estrondoso.
Kogan não foi tão prolífico em termos de gravação quanto seu amigo mais velho, David Oistrakh. Mas o que gravou foi o suficiente para demonstrar todo o seu imenso talento.
A gravadora EMI contratou para essas gravações dois grandes maestros russos para acompanhar o músico: Kiril Kondrashin e Constantin Silvestri, ou seja, nada pode dar errado quando temos estes nomes envolvidos.
Espero que apreciem, fã que sou da escola russa de violino, sei que os senhores também irão gostar.
01. Brahms Violin Concerto in D, Op.77 – I. Allegro non troppo
02. Brahms Violin Concerto in D, Op.77 – II. Adagio
03. Brahms Violin Concerto in D, Op.77 – III. Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace
04. Lalo Symphonie espagnole, Op.21 – I. Allegro non troppo
05. Lalo Symphonie espagnole, Op.21 – II. Scherzando (Allegro molto)
06. Lalo Symphonie espagnole, Op.21 – III. Intermezzo ( Allegro non troppo)
07. Lalo Symphonie espagnole, Op.21 – IV. Andante
08. Lalo Symphonie espagnole, Op.21 – V. Rondo (Allegro)
09. Tchaikovsky Serenade melancholique, Op.26
Leonid Kogan – Violin
Kiril Kondrashin – Conductor
01. Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, op.61 – I. Allegro ma non troppo
02. Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, op.61 – II. Laghetto
03. Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, op.61 – III. Rondo Allegro
04. Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major, op.35 – I. Allegro moderato
05. Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major, op.35 – II. Canzonetta Andante
06. Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major, op.35 – III. Finale Allegro vivace
Leonid Kogan – Violin
Orchestre de la Societé des Concerts du Conservatoire
Constantin Silvestri – Conductor
“Concerto do Século” é um título bastante presunçoso para esta gravação da celebração dos 85 anos (jubileu esquisito, né?) do Carnegie Hall em Nova York, e que eu comprei no Carrefour nos anos 90.
Os talentos reunidos talvez justifiquem a presunção: afinal, se hoje Leonard Bernstein, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Vladimir Horowitz, Slava Rostropovich e Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau provavelmente estão, entre uma piada e outra de Slava, a fazer música no Olimpo, no tempo em que eles repartiam conosco o ar pestilento do Hades era bem difícil vê-los repartindo um palco.
O repertório é um saco de gatos difícil de entender, cujo único critério de eleição, parece, era o da Roda da Fortuna. Talvez quisessem apenas achar pretextos para reunir o notável panteão musical e ganhar dinheiro com isso – a edição de luxo da gravação, por exemplo, limitada a mil exemplares e autografada pelos artistas, ainda pode trocar de mãos pela ninharia de duas mil e trezentas doletas.
Essa, no entanto, é uma questão que empalidece quando imaginamos o espetáculo sui generis que não deve ter sido assistir aos célebres instrumentistas cantando (!) o Hallelujah de Händel que encerra o festim musical. Não conseguimos, em momento algum, discernir suas vozes em meio ao coro e, por isso, provavelmente devamos à Oratorio Society e à Filarmônica de New York nossos efusivos agradecimentos.
Ver Horowitz soltando um dó de peito certamente foi uma das trombetas do Apocalipse, mas o fechamento meio bizarro do concerto não condiz com algumas das belezas nele contidas. Ok, o Concerto Duplo de Bach com Stern e Menuhin é decepcionante, meio cru e cheio de arestas, e também fica difícil entender por que o “Pater Noster” à capela de Tchaikovsky está ali, perdido entre Bach e Händel. No entanto, o “Pezzo Elegiaco” que abre o belo Trio em Lá menor de Tchaikovsky (com Stern, Horowitz e Rostropovich) e o Andante da Sonata para violoncelo e piano de Rachmaninov (com Rostropovich e Horowitz) são tão bons que a gente fica cá com os botões a se perguntar por que diachos deles foram tocados só excertos.
O ouro maciço, entretanto, está no MA-RA-VI-LHO-SO “Dichterliebe” de Schumann, na voz de seu maior intérprete, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, e com Horowitz ao piano. Não conseguiríamos tecer loas bastantes à maior voz do século XX, então concentramos nossos confetes sobre Horowitz, que não só acompanha impecavelmente como também acrescenta tensão e lirismo a momentos cruciais. Para mim, esta é disparadamente a melhor gravação que existe desta obra-prima do gênero, e tenho certeza de que, se fosse lançada separadamente e não escondida neste saco de gatos de pedigree, seria um sempiterno sucesso.
CONCERT OF THE CENTURY – CELEBRATING THE 85th ANNIVERSARY OF CARNEGIE HALL
Gravado ao vivo em 18 de maio de 1976
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
01 – Abertura “Leonore”, Op. 72a
New York Philarmonic
Leonard Bernstein, regência
PYOTR ILYCH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
02 – Trio em Lá menor para violino, piano e violoncelo, Op. 50 – Pezzo elegiaco
Isaac Stern, violino
Vladimir Horowitz, piano
Mstislav Rostropovich, violoncelo
SERGEY VASSILIYEVICH RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
03 – Sonata em Sol menor para violoncelo e piano, Op. 19 – Andante
Mstislav Rostropovich, violoncelo
Vladimir Horowitz, piano
Meu interesse em instrumentos musicais já me levou a tocar alguns deles em graus de sucesso que variam do sofrível ao ridículo. Minha experiência com todos, em especial os metais e as cordas, levou-me a admirar sobremaneira a dedicação dos instrumentistas para ajustarem suas bocas e dedos àqueles teimosos aparatos, extraindo deles não só sons agradáveis e condizentes com a intenção de um compositor, mas, o que é ainda mais impressionante, sem sucumbirem no processo.
Se acho uma façanha ser um virtuose de um instrumento que se toca tocando, que se pode dizer de um instrumento que se toca sem que se o toque?
Para mim, amigos, magia negra. Para o resto do mundo, é o assombroso teremim.
Inventado pelo físico russo Léon Theremin (Lev Termen, para os íntimos), este pioneiro entre os instrumentos eletrônicos é controlado pela posição das mãos do intérprete em relação a duas antenas: uma que regula a frequência, outra para o volume. O peculiar timbre resultante, já descrito como o de um “violoncelo perdido em neblina espessa, chorando por não saber como voltar para casa”, soa de melancólico a decididamente fantasmagórico. Não é à toa, portanto, que o teremim seja figurinha fácil de trilhas sonoras de filmes que abordam o incomum, o bizarro, e o inacreditável.
Parece difícil, e é mesmo. Por isso, talvez, passada a curiosidade inicial, o incrível instrumento de Theremin tenha ficado meio esquecido, e certamente limado de todos os círculos de música “séria”, até a entrada em cena de uma certa Clara Rockmore.
Nascida Klara Reisenberg em Vilnius (Lituânia), foi uma criança-prodígio no violino e chegou a estudar com Leopold Auer (sim, o professor de Heifetz; sim, o sujeito que esnobou o Concerto de Tchaikovsky) no Conservatório de São Petersburgo. Problemas de saúde fizeram-na abandonar o violino e a Música como um todo até encontrar, já nos Estados Unidos, o inventor Theremin. Trabalharam juntos no aperfeiçoamento do instrumento como meio de expressão artística. Foram tão próximos que Léon, que não era bobo, nem nada, lhe propôs casamento. Klara deu-lhe o fora, casou-se com um certo Rockmore, passou a chamar-se Clara e, emprestando ao teremim sua extraordinária musicalidade, transformou-se em sua primeira virtuose.
O vídeo acima, apesar do som precário, dá a vocês uma melhor ideia do que lhes tento dizer (além, claro,de ser deliciosamente funéreo!). O timbre, como já falamos, talvez seja um gosto adquirido, mas é assombrosa a expressividade que Rockmore obtém sem nada tocar além do éter. Se vocês perceberem, ao contrário da maior parte dos instrumentos, dos quais os silêncios são obtidos tão só pela suspensão da emissão do som, as pausas no teremim também têm que ser produzidas, através da ação a mão do volume (no caso de Rockmore, a esquerda).
Espero que, vencendo a natural estranheza, vocês possam apreciar a complicada arte desta virtuose incomum.
THE ART OF THE THEREMIN – CLARA ROCKMORE
Sergey VasilyevichRACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
01 – Canções, Op. 34 – no. 14: Vocalise
02 – Romances, Op. 4 – no. 4: “Ne poj, krasavitsa” [NOTA DO AUTOR: conhecida como “Canção de Grusia”, não se refere a qualquer pessoa, mas sim à região caucasiana da Geórgia, que tem este nome em russo]
Charles-Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
03 – O Carnaval dos Animais – no. 13: O Cisne
Manuel de FALLA y Matheu (1876-1946)
04 – El Amor Brujo – Pantomima
Yosif YuliyevichAKHRON (1886-1943)
05 – Melodia hebreia, Op. 33
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)
06 – Concerto para violino no. 2 em Ré menor, Op. 22 – Romance
Será que um Stradivarius vale tudo o que pedem por ele?
E um Amati? Ou um Guarneri?
Talvez este álbum possa ajudá-los a responder.
Nele, o virtuoso ítalo-americano Ruggiero Ricci (1918-2012) toca, em quinze famosos violinos, várias peças curtas que considera adequadas às características de cada instrumento. Depois, no que é talvez a parte mais interessante do álbum, ele toca o mesmo trecho – o início solo inicial do Concerto no. 1 de Max Bruch – com as mesmíssimas condições de estúdio em cada um dos violinos, a maior parte dos quais leva apelidos que remetem a ex-proprietários célebres. Apesar da overdose de Stradivari, o xodó de Ricci era seu inseparável Guarneri del Gesù (o “Ex-Huberman”, que surpreendemente não aparece nesta gravação), que foi, depois de sua morte, adquirido por uma companhia japonesa e cedido à violinista japonesa Midori Gotō.
A “Glória de Cremona” a que se refere o título é a rica tradição de luteria daquela cidade, que teve seu pináculo entre os séculos XVI e XVIII através de luthiers da estirpe de Stradivari, Guarnieri, Bergonzi, Amati e da Salo, cujos preciosos instrumentos são, há já muito tempo, o privilégio dos maiores virtuosos.
THE GLORY OF CREMONA – RUGGIERO RICCI
Jean-Antoine DESPLANES [Giovanni Antonio Piani] (1678-1760)
01 – Intrada [violino de Andrea Amati, c. 1560-170]
PietroNARDINI (1722-1793) 02 – Larghetto [violino de Antonio Stradivari, “ex-Rode”, 1733]
Antonio Lucio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
03 – Praeludium [violino de Nicolò Amati, 1656]
Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
04 – Cantabile e Valzer [violino de Antonio Stardivari, “Il Monasterio”,1719]
Wolfgang AmadeusMOZART (1756-1791)
arranjo de Carl Friedberg (1872–1955)
05 – Adagio [violino de Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, “Il Plowden”, 1735]
Dmitri Borisovich KABALEVSKY (1904-1987)
06 – Improvisation, Op. 21 no. 1 [violino de Antonio Stradivari, “Il Spagnolo”, 1677]
Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
07 – Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op. 42 – no. 2: Mélodie [violino de Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, “Il Lafont”, 1735]
Francesco Maria VERACINI (1690-1768)
08 – Largo [violino de Gasparo da Salo, ca. 1570-80]
Maria Theresia vonPARADIS (1759-1824)
arranjo de Samuel Dushkin (1891-1976)
09 – Sicilienne [violino de Carlo Bergonzi, “Il Constable”, 1731]
Jenő HUBAY (1858-1937)
10 – The Violin Maker of Cremona [violino de Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, “Ex-Bériot”, 1744]
Georg FriedrichHÄNDEL (1685-1759)
11 – Larghetto [violino de Antonio Stradivari, “El Madrileño”, 1720]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
arranjo de Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)
12 – Romance em Lá maior [violino de Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, “Ex-Vieuxtemps”, 1739]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
13 – Dança Húngara no. 20 [violino de Antonio Stradivari, “Ex-Joachim”, 1714]
14 – Dança Húngara no. 17 [violino de Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, “Ex-Gibson”, 1734]
Jakob Ludwig Felix MENDELSSOHN-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
arranjo de Fritz Kreisler
15 – Lieder ohne Wörte, Op. 62 – No. 1: “Mailüfte” (“Brisas de Maio”) [violino de Antonio Stradivari, “Ex-Ernst”, 1709]
Ruggiero Ricci, violinos Leon Pommers, piano
Max Christian FriedrichBRUCH (1838-1920)
Concerto para violino e orquestra no. 1 em Sol menor, Op. 26
I – Vorspiel. Allegro moderato (excerto – solo inicial)
Executado por Ruggiero Ricci nos seguintes instrumentos:
16 – Andrea Amati (c. 1560-70)
17 – Nicolò Amati (1656)
18 – Antonio Stradivari, “Il Spagnolo” (1677)
19 – Antonio Stradivari, “Ex-Ernst” (1709)
20 – Antonio Stradivari, “Ex-Joachim” (1714)
21 – Antonio Stradivari, “Il Monasterio” (1719)
22 – Antonio Stradivari, “El Madrileño” (1720)
23 – Antonio Stradivari, “Ex-Rode” (1733)
24 – Gasparo da Salo (c. 1570-80)
25 – Carlo Bergonzi, “Il Constable” (1731)
26 – Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, “Il Gibson” (1734)
27 – Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, “Il Lafont” (1735)
28 – Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, “Il Plowden” (1735)
29 – Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, “Ex-Vieuxtemps” (1739)
30 – Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, “Ex-Bériot” (1744)
Há histórias tão improváveis que são indeglutíveis.
E há a história de Muçaperê e Erundi, ou de Natalício e Antenor Lima, ou – como o mundo todo viria a conhecê-los – dos Índios Tabajaras.
Eles eram, de fato, indígenas, nascidos da nação Tabajara, na serra de Ibiapaba, perto da divisa entre o Ceará e o Piauí. Receberam seus nomes nativos porque eram o terceiro (“muçaperê”) e quarto (“erundi”) filhos de seu pai. Sua trajetória do sertão até o sucesso mundial é tão inacreditável que minha prosa não tem asas para contá-la: deixo o próprio Natalício fazê-lo, neste longo, fascinante depoimento.
Resumo da epopeia: um primeiro contato com militares (e com o violão) no sertão; um tenente os apadrinha, e adotam “nomes de branco”; a fome move a família para o Rio de Janeiro, a pé e em pau-de-arara, ao longo de três anos, durante os quais se familiarizam com a viola brasileira e o violão; primeiras aparições no rádio e em teatros da Capital Federal e em São Paulo, anunciados como “bugres que sabem tocar”; sem serem levados muito a sério, fazem suas primeiras gravações; saem em turnê pela América Latina; chegam ao México, onde são apresentados por Ricardo Montalbán como “analfabetos musicais”; o constrangimento leva-os a terem aulas de música em Caracas e Buenos Aires; excursão pelos Estados Unidos, onde gravam várias músicas do repertório easy listening, incluindo o fox “Maria Elena”; retorno desiludido ao Brasil e busca de uma nova carreira; no meio-tempo, o compacto de “Maria Elena” transforma-se num imenso sucesso retardado, com mais de um milhão de vendas; os irmãos são catapultados de volta aos Estados Unidos, onde, entre idas e vindas, se radicam e vivem até suas mortes.
A acreditar em tudo o que se conta deles, temos a mais fantástica trajetória artística que ainda não virou livro ou filme. Mas não é ela, claro, que nos interessa, pois isso aqui, afinal de contas, é o PQP Bach e quem me lê não quer saber de histórias fabulosas: quer música, e muita, e da muito boa.
Surge, pois, a minha deixa para apresentar-lhes esta gravação.
Se a maior parte do repertório da dupla consistiu em músicas melosas, feitas para pagar as contas e destinadas invariavelmente aos almoços de família e às salas de espera de consultórios de dentista, os largamente autodidatas Muçaperê e Erundi eram entusiastas da música clássica europeia e, sempre que podiam, incluíam suas peças em seus recitais. Em muitos deles, tocavam música de elevador vestidos em trajes, ahn, “indígenas” (daqueles para inglês ver) para, depois do intervalo e de smoking, tocarem as transcrições de obras de concerto habilmente feitas por Muçaperê.
Este álbum, Casually Classic, inclui algumas delas, com solos de Muçaperê, e acompanhamentos de Erundi.
Talvez alguns torçam o nariz para a transcrição de Recuerdos de la Alhambra para dois violões, em vez da difícil superposição entre melodia em tremolo e acompanhamento em arpejos com o polegar da versão solo. Eu a acho esplêndida e muito mais evocativa que o original. Os excertos orquestrais são cheios de verve, e a fuga de Bach – uma estranha no ninho entre as seleções – é deliciosamente trigueira. O ponto alto, para mim, é a Fantasia-Improviso de Chopin, transcrita e interpretada de uma maneira tão linda que me é até mais convincente que o original pianístico.
Se a muitos será uma surpresa a revelação de que houve um grande duo de violonistas brasileiros antes dos irmãos Assad conquistarem o planeta, espero que ela, ao escutarem esta gravação, seja muito grata.
OS ÍNDIOS TABAJARAS – CASUALLY CLASSIC (1966)
Muçaperê (Natalício Moreira Lima) e Erundi (Antenor Moreira Lima), violões Transcrições de Muçaperê
Fryderyk Franciszek CHOPIN (1810-1849)
01 – Valsa em Dó sustenido menor, Op. 64 no. 2
Pyotr IlyichTCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
02 – O Quebra-Nozes, Op. 71: Valsa das Flores
Francisco de Asis TÁRREGA y Eixea (1852-1909)
03 – Recuerdos de la Alhambra
Nikolay AndreyevichRIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
04 – A Lenda do Czar Saltan – Ato III, Interlúdio: O Voo do Zangão
05 – Valsa em Ré bemol maior, Op. 64 no. 1
Johann SebastianBACH (1685-1750)
06 – O Cravo bem Temperado, livro I – Prelúdio e Fuga em Dó sustenido maior, BWV 848: Fuga
Manuel de FALLA y Matheu (1876-1946)
07 – El Amor Brujo: Dança Ritual do Fogo
08 – Fantasia-Improviso em Dó sustenido menor, Op. 66
Já tenho esse CD há muito tempo, e apesar de ser lá do Período Jurássico, gravado em Mono, é um de meus favoritos. Não apenas pelo repertório, pelos músicos envolvidos, pelas orquestras envolvidas, enfim, ele é um registro histórico de um dos maiores maestros do século XX, uma das poucas unanimidades dentre os membros do PQPBach, Ferenc Fricsay. Vou deixar a palavra com um dos maiores músicos do século XX, que o apresenta no libreto deste CD da série Dokumente, da gravadora Deutsche Grammophon:
“Entre as vantagens oferecidas pela atual mídia audiovisual está a esplêndida oportunidade de manter vivo o legado de todo grande músico. Este é um exercício particularmente valioso e valioso no caso de uma figura tão excepcional como a do grande Ferenc Fricsay. Quando ele conduziu pela primeira vez em Berlim, os iniciados sabiam que estavam na presença de um mestre genuíno, alguém que trouxe consigo idéias totalmente novas de técnica e interpretação orquestral. Um som orquestral pequeno, esguio e transparente como o conseguido por Fricsay agora pode ser visto inteiramente natural, mas o maestro que nos introduziu a esse som e revelou que a paixão total, absoluta e envolvente dentro de tais limitações auto-impostas não deve se desvanecer das mentes e memórias da geração atual de amantes da música. De todo o coração, portanto, devemos acolher o lançamento de uma nova edição destas gravações, uma edição de todos os sucessos. A oposição de Fricsay ao glamour e à superficialidade do período em que atuou como regente permanece totalmente exemplar e até hoje ainda é digno de emulação”.
Essa sua gravação da Sinfonia Patética lá em 1953, frente à Filarmônica de Berlim, é uma da mais profundas e emocionantes que já tive a oportunidade de ouvir. Ele entendeu e compreendeu a obra de Tchaikovsky como poucos, se envolvia totalmente, não apenas com o que está na partitura, mas principalmente no que está nas entrelinhas. E isso em 1953, quando o maestro tinha apenas 39 anos de idade, e sem os recursos tecnológicos que temos atualmente. E não sou apenas eu, um mero diletante, e sim toda a imprensa especializada, e músicos do calibre de Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, que realizou notáveis registros com ele. Já declarei que meu condutor favorito para esta sinfonia foi Karajan, mas Ferenc Fricsay, talvez por sua precocidade e principalmente por sua sensibilidade, e claro, também por ter nos deixado tão cedo, tem o meu carinho especial.
A gravação do Concerto para violino é mais velha ainda, 1949 (também jurássica), quando recém tínhamos saído da Segunda Guerra Mundial, e entrávamos no período que ficou conhecido como Guerra Fria. Yehudi Menuhin já era considerado um gênio do violino. E ele também nos apresenta Ferenc Fricsay como ‘um cometa que apareceu no horizonte, um dos mais brilhantes eventos musicais de seu tempo’.
Um grande CD, facilmente classificável como ‘IM-PER-DÍ-VEL’ !!!
01. Symphony No.6 in B minor, op.74 ‘Pathetique’ – I. Adagio – Allegro non troppo
02. Symphony No.6 in B minor, op.74 ‘Pathetique’ – II. Allegro con grazia
03. Symphony No.6 in B minor, op.74 ‘Pathetique’ – III. Allegro molto vivace
04. Symphony No.6 in B minor, op.74 ‘Pathetique’ – IV. Finale Adagio lamentoso –
Ferenc Fricsay – Conductor
05. Violin Concerto in D major, op.35 (Y. Menuhin on Violin) – I. Allegro moderato
06. Violin Concerto in D major, op.35 (Y. Menuhin on Violin) – II. Canzonetta Andante-attaca
07. Violin Concerto in D major, op.35 (Y. Menuhin on Violin) – III. Finale Allegro vivacissimo
Yehudi Menuhin – Violin
Ferenc Fricsay – Conductor
Sharon Bezaly é um dos grandes nomes da flauta na atualidade. É jovem (ou ao menos aparenta, já que nasceu em 1972), ou seja, tem muito a contribuir ainda, muito versátil, e encara com tranquilidade petardos como este Concerto de Nielsen que temos neste CD, e o de Kachaturian, que pretendo trazer amanhã, ou depois de amanhã. Destaque especial para o arranjo que Kalevi Aho fez em 2008 do “Vôo do Besouro” de Korsákov e lhe dedicou e que fecha este CD.
Aqui nesta gravação ela é acompanhada pelo experiente maestro Neeme Järvi, que conduz a Residentie Orkest den Haag.
P.S. O booklet com maiores informações está anexo ao arquivo compactado.
NIELSEN, Carl (1865–1931) Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, FS119 (1926)
I. Allegro moderato
II. Allegretto, un poco – Adagio ma non troppo – Allegretto – Poco Adagio – Tempo di Marcia
GRIFFES, Charles Tomlinson (1884–1920) Poem for Flute and Orchestra(1918)
REINECKE, Carl (1824–1910) Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in D major Op.283 (1908)
I. Allegro molto moderato 7’02
II. Lento e mesto 4’44
III. Finale. Moderato 6’08
CHAMINADE, Cécile (1857–1944) Concertino for Flute and Orchestra (Enoch & Cie) Op.107 (1902)
TCHAIKOVSKY, Pyotr Ilyich (1840–93) adapted by Ernest Sauter
Largo and Allegro for two flutes and strings (1863–64) Version for solo flute and strings (Verlag Walter Wollenweber)
POULENC, Francis (1899–1963) orch. Lennox Berkeley Flute Sonata (1956–57) (Chester Music) 11’27
I. Allegro malinconico 4’22
II. Cantilena. Assez lent 3’32
III. Presto giocoso 3’21
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, Nikolai (1844–1908) arr. Kalevi Aho 2008 –dedicated to Sharon Bezaly The Flight of the Bumblebee (1899–1900) (Fennica Gehrman)
Sharon Bezaly flute
Residentie Orkest Den Haag
Neeme Järvi conductor
Este CD vai em homenagem à todos aqueles românticos babões, como este que vos escreve, que sempre se emocionam com as obras do polonês Chopin, mesmo que já as tenham ouvido dezenas, quiçá, centenas de vezes.
Daniil Trifonov é um dos grandes nomes do piano da atualidade, sem dúvida nenhuma. E esta sua parceria com o também pianista, regente e compositor Mikhail Pletnev, e claro, russo como ele, é uma grande prova disso. Os fãs destes concertos vão notar que existe uma diferença na parte orquestral, e aí é que entra Pletnev, que reescreveu essa parte. Li em certa ocasião que aí residia um dos grandes problemas destes concertos: a parte orquestral, que não seria a praia de Chopin. Alguns excessos desnecessários, diziam os críticos. Pletnev realmente deu um trato, digamos assim, enxugou estas partes. Volto a repetir, os fãs dos concertos e ouvintes destas obras há décadas, como este que vos escreve, irão entender do que estou falando. Aliás, antes de ouvir com mais atenção esta gravação, ouvi a histórica gravação de Samson François, lá do final dos anos 50, com a regência de Louis Fremaux, uma de minhas leituras favoritas. E Samson François foi um dos maiores intérpretes de Chopin do século XX.
Mas vamos ouvir o que Trifonov tem a dizer:
“Chopin revolutionized the expressive horizons of the piano. From very early in his musical output, Chopin’s lyrical grace, thematic sincerity, harmonic adventure and luminous virtuosity embodied all the qualities the Romantics, like Schumann, found irresistible.”
O texto do booklet continua a análise:
“In the context of these diverse works composed or inspired by Chopin, a new light is cast on his two piano concertos, written in close succession when he was turning 20. The F minor “Second” Concerto was in fact composed and premiered first, although it was published after the E minor “First” Concerto. Yet irrespective of sequence, the two works can be understood together as a singular experiment in a genre to which Chopin never returned. They reflect the young composer’s creative consciousness paying homage to his musical predecessors while searching for new expressive means. As Trifonov explains: “The concertos are more massive in terms of length and instrumentation than anything else Chopin ever wrote. He knew and admired the piano concertos of Mozart and Beethoven, yet his interest in the form was not in the Classical balance between soloist and orchestra, but in the concerto as a lyrical epic form, like a Delacroix painting, providing a huge tableau for his musical expression.”
The experiment was only partly successful. While the E minor Concerto is more bravura and the F minor more introversion, they are both full of candid sentiment, drama and pianistic innovation, their central movements evoking bel canto melodies of heartbreaking intimacy. But the proportions are challenging. Chopin eschews the Classical convention of discrete cadenzas, instead subsuming all elements of thematic variation and technical development in a continuous soloistic narrative. His typically delicate, improvisational style and compact elegance can get lost in the sprawling dimensions of the works, the authenticity of whose orchestrations have always been a matter of debate. In both concertos, the piano plays almost uninterruptedly from the solo introduction in the first movement exposition through to the final bars. Yet, as the soloist winds and twists and explores melodic nuances, the original orchestral accompaniment provides punctuation and amplitude but little affinity with this flow of ideas. It was the desire to restore these two works to more chamberlike proportions commensurate with the detail of the solo material and to allow for more faithful interaction between soloist and orchestra that motivated Mikhail Pletnev to create new orchestrations for the two Chopin concertos. The piano parts are unaltered, but Pletnev’s streamlined instrumentation, in Trifonov’s words, “liberates the soloist. The new orchestral transparency allows the pianist greater spontaneity and sensitive engagement with the other voices.” Himself a brilliant pianist-composer, Pletnev’s intimate knowledge of the scores as both performer and orchestrator make him an ideal partner in Trifonov’s Chopinist evocations. The Mahler Chamber Orchestra, a dynamic ensemble of soloists steeped in the responsiveness demanded by opera and chamber music, realizes Pletnev’s refreshed balances of voice and colour. Pletnev’s contribution to the musical constellation is not only material, but also spiritual. As Trifonov explains: “My mentor and teacher, Sergei Babayan, studied with Mikhail Pletnev in Moscow in the 1980s. That makes him a little bit like my musical forefather.” The family portrait is completed on this album by a rendition of Chopin’s rarely heard and devilishly difficult Rondo op. posth. 73, performed by Trifonov and Babayan together. This autobiographical element closes the circle of thematic motives in Trifonov’s project revolving around Chopin. “Chopin is one of the world’s most beloved composers – the poetry of his music goes straight to the heart and requires no justification”, Trifonov contends. “But in a sense, the genius of Chopin becomes even more clear in the context of those who influenced him and those who have been inspired by him.” The programme affords an opportunity to hear his familiar music afresh, transfigured within a tapestry of historical, musicological, personal and expressive “evocations”, as well as a glimpse of the young man to whose “genius, steady striving, and imagination” Schumann bowed his head.”
Espero que apreciem. Eu gostei muito deste CD.
FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN (1810–1849)
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in F minor op. 21 f-Moll | en fa mineur
1 1. Maestoso
2 2. Larghetto
3 3. Allegro vivace
Daniil Trifonov piano
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Variations on “Là ci darem la mano” from the opera Don Giovanni by W. A. Mozart in B flat major op. 2 B-Dur | en si bémol majeur
4 Introduction. Largo – Poco più mosso
5 Tema. Allegretto
6 Var. 1. Brillante
7 Var. 2. Veloce, ma accuratamente
8 Var. 3. Sempre sostenuto
9 Var. 4. Con bravura
10 Var. 5. Adagio
ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810–1856)
12 Chopin. Agitato 1:30 No. 12 from Carnaval op. 9
EDVARD GRIEG (1843–1907)
13 Study “Hommage à Chopin” op. 73 no. 5. Allegro agitato
SAMUEL BARBER (1910–1981)
14 Nocturne op. 33. Moderato
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893)
15 Un poco di Chopin op. 72 no. 15. Tempo di Mazurka
1 Rondo for Two Pianos in C major op. posth. 73 n ut majeur
Daniil Trifonov, Sergei Babayan pianos
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in E minor op. 11 e-Moll
2 1. Allegro maestoso
3 2. Romance. Larghetto
4 3. Rondo. Vivace
Daniil Trifonov piano
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
FREDERIC MOMPOU (1893–1987) Variations on a Theme by Chopin
5 Theme. Andantino
6 Var. 1. Tranquillo e molto amabile
7 Var. 2. Gracioso
8 Var. 3. Lento (Para la mano izquierda / For the left hand)
9 Var. 4. Espressivo
10 Var. 5. Tempo di Mazurka
11 Var. 6. Recitativo
12 Var. 7. Allegro leggiero
13 Var. 8. Andante dolce e espressivo
14 Var. 9. Valse
15 Var. 10. Évocation. Cantabile molto espressivo
16 Var. 11. Lento dolce e legato
17 Var. 12. Galope y Epílogo 3:19
18 Impromptu No. 4 in C sharp minor 5:36 “Fantaisie-Impromptu” op. 66
Para muitos, um paradigma a ser quebrado, uma das maiores gravações da história da indústria fonográfica, um “must have”, enfim, Tchaikovsky sob a batuta de Mravinsky. Alguns dizem que um dos motivos que tornaram possíveis este desempenho é que Mravinsky mergulhou fundo na alma russa presente nestas obras e a arrancou com sangue, suor e lágrimas. Exageros a parte, temos aqui um Tchaikovsky em sua essência, para satisfazer o mano PQP, que só admite este autor quando interpretado pelo grande maestro russo.
Abaixo, o texto do editorial da Amazon.com :
These recordings by Evgeny Mravinsky and his Leningrad Philharmonic, taped in the autumn of 1960 while they were on tour in London, are among the absolute classics of the catalog. They are readings of hair-raising intensity–the finale of the Fourth is marked allegro con fuoco, and if you want to know what con fuoco means, all you have to do is listen for a moment. No one else has ever had the nerve, or the ability, to play the music this way. The treatment is very Russian: the extremes are more extreme, the passions more feverish, the melancholy darker, the climaxes louder. In that department, the development section of the first movement of the Pathètique has to be heard to be believed. The sound is remarkably good for the time, a little edgy in the loudest pages but wonderfully present, just like the performances themselves.–Ted Libbey
OBS. Originalmente esta postagem foi feita lá em 2012, posteriormente nosso saudoso russo Vassily Grienrikovich atualizou os links em 2015, mas com o fim do PQPShare, os links foram para o espaço novamente.
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Symphonies nº 4, f-moll, op. 36, Nº5, e-moll, op. 64 e nº6, h-moll, op. 74, “Pathétique”
1 – Symphonie Nr.4 f-moll op.36 – I. Andante sostenuto – Moderato con anima – Moderato assai, quasi andante – Allegro vivo
2 – Symphonie Nr.4 f-moll op.36 – II. Andantino in modo di canzone
3 – Symphonie Nr.4 f-moll op.36 – III. Scherzo. Pizzicato ostinato. Allegro
4 – Symphonie Nr.4 f-moll op.36 – IV. Finale. Allegro con fuoco
5 – Symphonie Nr.5 e-moll op.64 – I. Andante – Allegro con anima
6 – Symphonie Nr.5 e-moll op.64 – II. Andante cantabile, con alcuna licenza – Moderato con anima – Andante mosso – Allegro non troppo
7 – Tchaikovsky Symphonie Nr.5 e-moll op.64 – III. Valse. Allegro moderato
8 – Tchaikovsky Symphonie Nr.5 e-moll op.64 – IV. Finale. Andante maestoso – Allegro vivace – Molto vivace-Moderato assai e molto maestoso
9 – Tchaikovsky Symphonie Nr.6 h-moll op.74 ‘Pathetique’ – I. Adagio – Allegro non troppo
10 – Tchaikovsky Symphonie Nr.6 h-moll op.74 ‘Pathetique’ – II. Allegro con grazia
11- Tchaikovsky Symphonie Nr.6 h-moll op.74 ‘Pathetique’ – III. Allegro molto vivace
12 – Tchaikovsky Symphonie Nr.6 h-moll op.74 ‘Pathetique’ – IV. Finale. Adagio lamentoso
“After Tchaikovsky’s qualified success with The Sleeping Beauty, in February 1891 he was invited to compose the music for a new ballet. The scenario was based on Alexandre Dumas père’s adaptation of a story by the German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, Nussknacker und Mausekönig. From the outset, The Nutcracker had its critics, none more trenchant than the composer himself. He wrote to his beloved nephew, Vladimir (Bob) Davydov on 7 July: ‘…I finished the sketches of the ballet yesterday. You will remember that I boasted to you when you were here that I could finish the ballet in five days, but I have scarcely finished it in a fortnight. No, the old man is breaking up … he loses bit by bit the capacity to do anything at all. The ballet is infinitely worse than Sleeping Beauty – so much is certain … If I arrive at the conclusion that I can no longer furnish my musical table with anything but warmed up fare, I will give up composing altogether.’
At its St. Petersburg première on [6 December] 18 December 1892 The Nutcracker formed half of a double bill with the darker operatic component, Iolanta, generally thought superior. Posterity has reversed this judgement. It is true that hardly any story survives in the ballet’s voyage from the (mimed) semi-reality of an idealized family Christmas to the land of eternal sweetmeats (and nothing but virtuoso dancing). Yet the score itself is brilliantly alive with no hint of time-serving tinsel. Tchaikovsky’s exploitation of his unmatched gift for melody was never more audacious.
The miniature overture opening the work sets the fairy mood by employing only the orchestra’s upper registers. The first act is divided into two scenes. It is Christmas Eve and little Clara is playing with her toys. At midnight they come to life. Led by the Nutcracker, her special present, they overwhelm some marauding mice, after which he is transformed into a Prince. Clara and her Prince travel through a snowy landscape where they are greeted by waltzing snowflakes. Ivanov’s original choreography, in which the dancers evoked the movements of windswept snow, was much admired by the cognoscenti who climbed up to the cheaper seats in order to appreciate the patterns created.
In Act 2 the Sugar Plum Fairy and the people of the Land of Sweets proffer a lavish gala of character dances. There follows a magnificent pas de deux for the Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy, the latter’s own variation realising the composer’s desire to showcase the celesta, a new instrument he had heard in Paris. Its unique timbre is here famously complemented by little downward swoops from the bass clarinet. Elsewhere Tchaikovsky incorporates several children’s instruments including a rattle, pop-gun, toy trumpet and
miniature drum. After the festivities Clara wakes up under the Christmas tree, the Nutcracker toy in her arms, although, in some versions she rides off with her Nutcracker Prince as if the dream has happened in reality q.v. Hoffmann’s original story.
Radical modern interpretations include Mark Morris’s The Hard Nut (1991), set in the Swinging Sixties but faithful to the original score, and Donald Byrd’s Harlem Nutcracker (1996), danced to Duke Ellington’s jazz adaptation and set in an African-American household where Clara, the little girl, has become clan matriarch. That Tchaikovsky’s invention should present such riches to plunder, given the slight, somewhat incongruous scenario with which he had to work, says much about the nature of his genius.”
C David Gutman, 2010
01. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – a. Miniature Overture
02. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – b. Act I; N.1 – The Decoration Of The Christmas Tree
03. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – c. Act I; N.2 – March
04. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – d. Act I; N.3 – Children’s Galop & Entry Of The Parents
05. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – e. Act I; N.4 – Arrival Of Drosselmeyer
06. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – f. Act I; N.5 – Grandfather’s Dance
07. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – g. Act I; N.6 – Scene. Clara And The Nutcracker
08. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – h. Act I; N.7 – Scene. The Battle
09. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – i. Act I; N.8 – Scene. In The Pine Forest
10. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – j. Act I; N.9 – Waltz Of The Snowflakes
11. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – k. Act II; N.10 – Scene. The Kingdom Of Sweets
12. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – l. Act II; N.11 – Scene. Clara And The Prince
13. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – m. Act II; N.12-a – Divertissement. Chocolate–Spanish Dance
14. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – n. Act II; N.12-b – Divertissement. Coffee–Arabian Dance
15. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – o. Act II; N.12-c – Divertissement. Tea–Chinese Dance
16. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – p. Act II; N.12-d – Divertissement. Trepak–Russian Dance
17. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – q. Act II; N.12-e – Divertissement. Dance Of The Reed Pipes
18. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – r. Act II; N.12-f – Divertissment. Mother Gigogne
19. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – s. Act II; N.13 – Waltz Of The Flowers
01. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – t. Act II; N.14 – Pas de Deux
02. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – u. Act II; N.14-a – Pas de Deux–Variation I. Tarantella
03. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – v. Act II; N.14-b – Pas de Deux–Variation II. Dance Of The Sugar-Plum Fairy
04. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – w. Act II; N.14-c – Pas de Deux–Coda
05. The Nutcracker, Op.71 – x. Act II; No.15 – Final Waltz & Apotheosis
06. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G major, Op.55 – I. Elégie
07. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G major, Op.55 – II. Valse mélancolique
08. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G major, Op.55 – III. Scherzo
09. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G major, Op.55 – IV. Thème et Variations
10. Orchestral Suite No. 4 in G major, ‘Mozartiana’, Op.61 – I. Gigue
11. Orchestral Suite No. 4 in G major, ‘Mozartiana’, Op.61 – II. Menuet
12. Orchestral Suite No. 4 in G major, ‘Mozartiana’, Op.61 – III. Preghiera
13. Orchestral Suite No. 4 in G major, ‘Mozartiana’, Op.61 – IV. Thème et Variations
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Ernest Ansermet – Conductor
“The Sleeping Beauty was adapted from Charles Perrault’s well-known fairy story, La Belle au bois dormant (1697). Tchaikovsky took special pains over the orchestration, achieving an unprecedented precision of effect, assisted by his recent experiences as a conductor. The story goes that at the gala rehearsal before the Maryinsky première which took place on [3 January] / 15 January 1890, the grandeur and novelty of the conception left Tsar Alexander III bemused. He summoned up only a lukewarm ‘Very nice!’ when the composer was called to the royal box. ‘His majesty treated me with distant hauteur’ noted the composer in his diary.
The ballet’s prologue depicting the christening of the baby Princess Aurora contains a variation for each of the six fairies come to bestow gifts upon the infant. In the midst of the excitement the wicked fairy, Carabosse, casts a spell over Aurora, promising that she will prick her finger and die. Intervening to save her, the Lilac Fairy (originally played by Petipa’s daughter, Marie) mitigates the curse from death to sleep. Many years later the royal family is celebrating Aurora’s birthday. The choreographic highpoint is the Adagio maestoso or ‘Rose’ Adagio which she dances with her princely suitors, the steps revealing her growing confidence. Since her christening the King has attempted to ban all sharp objects from the kingdom but when a disguised Carabosse presents Aurora with a spindle, sometimes a bouquet of flowers or a beautiful tapestry with embedded needle, she pricks her finger and she and the court fall deeply asleep.
One hundred years later in a dark forest a Prince is hunting with his friends. The Lilac Fairy conjures up an irresistible apparition of Aurora and he instantly falls in love. Led to the castle to rescue her and put an end to the evil Carabosse, one kiss and the spell is broken. Princess Aurora and her entire family awaken from their slumber and the couple’s wedding is celebrated in Act 3 with a divertissement involving a cornucopia of fairytale characters including Puss in Boots, Cinderella, the Bluebird, Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Thumb. In the grand pas de deux Aurora is presented musically and choreographically as a woman in full bloom, rejoicing in true love. Initially performed abroad in abbreviated form, Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes brought the first full-length Sleeping Beauty to the UK in 1921. The countless stagings since have tended to remain close to the Russian original rather than imparting layers of psychological meaning.”
01. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – a. Introduction (Allegro vivo; andantino); Prologue–The Christening. N.1; March (moderato)
02. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – b. Prologue–The Christening; N.2; Dance Scene (moderato con moto)
03. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – c. Prologue–The Christening; N.3-a; Pas de six. Introduction; adagio
04. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – d. Prologue–The Christening; N.3-b; Pas de six. Var.I–Fairy Of The Crystal Fountain (allegro moderato)
05. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – e. Prologue–The Christening; N.3-c; Pas de six. Var.II–Fairy Of The Enchanted Garden (allegro)
06. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – f. Prologue–The Christening; N.3-d; Pas de six. Var.III–Fairy Of The Woodland Glades (allegro moderato)
07. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – g. Prologue–The Christening; N.3-e; Pas de six. Var.IV–Fairy Of The Songbirds (moderato)
08. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – h. Prologue–The Christening; N.3-f; Pas de six. Var.V–Fairy Of The Golden Vine (allegro molto vivace)
09. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – i. Prologue–The Christening; N.3-g; Pas de six. Var.VI–Lilac Fairy (Tempo di valse)
10. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – j. Prologue–The Christening; N.3-h; Pas de six. Coda (Allegro giusto)
11. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – k. Prologue–The Christening; N.4; Finale
12. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – l. Act I–The Spell; N.5; Scene (allegro vivo; moderato)
13. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – m. Act I–The Spell; N.6; Waltz (Allegro. Tempo di Valse)
14. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – n. Act I–The Spell; N.7; Scene (Andante)
15. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – o. Act I–The Spell; N.8-a; Pas d’action. Rose Adagio (andante; adagio maestoso)
16. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – p. Act I–The Spell; N.8-b; Pas d’action. Dance Of The Maids Of Honour & Pages
17. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – q. Act I–The Spell; N.8-c; Pas d’action. Aurora’s Variation
18. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – r. Act I–The Spell; N.8-d; Pas d’action. Coda (allegro giusto)
19. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – s. Act I–The Spell; N.9; Finale
01. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – t. Act II–The Vision; N.10; Entr’acte & Scene (Allegro con spirito; un poco più tranquillo)
02. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – u. Act II–The Vision; N.11; Blind Man’s Bluff (Allegro vivo)
03. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – v. Act II–The Vision; N.12-a; Scene. Dances Of The Courtiers
04. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – w. Act II–The Vision; N.12-c; Dance Of The Duchesses (Minuet. Moderato con moto)
05. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – x. Act II–The Vision; N.12-d. Dance Of The Baronesses (Gavotte)
06. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – y. Act II–The Vision; N.12-e; Dance Of The Countesses (Allegro non troppo)
07. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z. Act II–The Vision; N.12-f; Dance Of The Marchionesses (Allegro non troppo)
08. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-a. Act II–The Vision; N.13; Farandole. Scene (Poco più vivo); Dance (Allegro non troppo)
09. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-b. Act II–The Vision; N.14; Scene. Prince Florimund & The Lilac Fairy
10. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-c. Act II–The Vision; N.15-a; Pas d’action. Aurora & Florimund (Andante cantabile)
11. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-d. Act II–The Vision; N.15-b; Pas d’action. Aurora’s Variation (Allegro con moto)
12. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-e. Act II–The Vision; N.15-c; Pas d’action. Coda (Presto)
13. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-f. Act II–The Vision; N.16; Scene (Allegro agitato)
14. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-g. Act II–The Vision; N.17; Panorama (Andantino)
15. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-h. Act II–The Vision; N.19-20; Symphonic Entr’acte (The Sleep); Scene (Andante misterioso); Finale. The Awakening (Allegro agitato)
16. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-i. Act III–The Wedding; N.21; March (Allegro non troppo)
17. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-j. Act III–The Wedding; N.22; Polonaise. Procession Of The Fairy-Tale Characters (Allegro moderato e brillante)
18. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-k. Act III-The Wedding; N.23-a; Pas de quatre. Introduction (Allegro non tanto)
19. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-l. Act III-The Wedding; N.23-b. Pas de quatre. Var.I–The Golden Fairy (Allegro. Tempo di Valse)
20. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-m. Act III-The Wedding; N.23-c. Pas de quatre. Var.II–The Silver Fairy (Allegro giusto)
21. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-n. Act III–The Wedding; N.23-d; Pas de quatre. Var.IV–The Diamond Fairy (Vivace); Coda (L’istesso tempo)
22. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-o. Act III–The Wedding; N.24; Pas de caractère. Puss-in-Boots & The White Cat (Allegro moderato)
23. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-p. Act III–The Wedding; N.25-a; Pas de quatre. Introduction (Adagio)
24. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-q. Act III–The Wedding; N.25-b. Pas de quatre. Var.I–Cinderella & Prince Charming (Allegro. Tempo di Valse)
25. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-r. Act III–The Wedding; N.25-c; Pas de quatre. Var.II–The Bluebird & Princess Florine (Andantino)
26. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-s. Act III–The Wedding; N.25-d; Pas de quatre. Coda (Presto)
27. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-t. Act III–The Wedding; N.26; Pas de caractère. Red Riding Hood & The Wolf (Allegro moderato)
28. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-u. Act III–The Wedding; N.27-a; Tom Thumb (Allegro agitato; tempo di Valse; vivace assai)
29. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-v. Act III–The Wedding; N.27-b; Cinderella & Prince Fortune
30. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-w. Act III–The Wedding; N.28-a; Pas de deux (Aurora & Florimund). Entrée (Allegretto; allegro moderato); Adagio (Andante non troppo)
31. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-x. Act III–The Wedding; N.28-b; Pas de deux (Aurora & Florimund). Var.I–Florimund (Vivace; prestissimo)
32. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-y. Act III–The Wedding; N.28-c; Pas de deux (Aurora & Florimund). Var.II–Aurora (Andantino)
33. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-z. Act III–The Wedding; N.28-d; Pas de deux (Aurora & Florimund). Coda (Allegro vivace)
34. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-z-a. Act III–The Wedding; N.29; Sarabande
35. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-z-b. Act III–The Wedding; N.30-a; Finale (Allegro brillante. Tempo di Mazurka)–
36. Ballet, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Op.66 – z-z-c. Act III–The Wedding; N.30-b; Apotheosis. Andante molto maestoso
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Ernest Ansermet – Conductor
According to his brother Modest, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, much drawn to ballet in his youth, was fond of imitating the dancers and could do so proficiently. As late as 1875, when Camille Saint-Saëns was making his Moscow debut as composer, pianist and conductor, the two men were reportedly to be found larking about on the stage of the conservatoire performing a little ‘Galatea and Pygmalion’ ballet together with Nikolay Rubinstein at the piano. However the mature composer would have been surprised to find himself held up as a key figure in the history of classical dance. (Closer to our own time, Sergey Sergeyevich Prokofiev likewise preferred to think of himself as a purveyor of opera, notwithstanding Serge Diaghilev’s outspoken views and his own successes with full-length ballets in the Tchaikovsky tradition.)
It is hardly surprising that early spectators of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake (1875–76), accustomed to the subservient scores of Cesare Pugni (1802-1870) and Ludwig Minkus (1826–1917), should have felt puzzled by its symphonic proportions and depth of feeling. Only two orchestral rehearsals and a poor production scarcely helped. Even The Sleeping Beauty (1888–89), one of Tchaikovsky’s great masterpieces, staged with
the resources of the Imperial Ballet in St Petersburg, enjoyed only a succès d’estime during his lifetime. His last work in the form, the two-act Nutcracker (1891–92), secured its popular reputation through the pre release of a suite showcasing its glittering themes.
Tchaikovsky’s balletic significance became much more obvious after his death, part of a process that saw the form perfected and renewed by such practitioners as the French-born choreographer Marius Petipa (1818–1910) and the Russian Mikhail Fokine (1880–1942). The Sleeping Beauty was commissioned by Ivan Vsevolozhsky (1835–1909), then Director of the Imperial Theatres, who had abolished the post of staff ballet composer with a view to engaging musicians of greater distinction. The scenario and designs were prepared by Vsevolozhsky while Petipa mapped out the sequence of dances. Without subverting traditional imperatives of clarity, harmony, symmetry and order, the bold invention and perfect alignment of music and choreography had the capacity to affect audiences in a new way. Tchaikovsky’s three mature ballets were chiefly responsible for this generic transformation, for all that he once described Swan Lake as ‘poor stuff compared with [Delibes’s] Sylvia.’
Public acclaim notwithstanding, many academic commentators have found Tchaikovsky an uncomfortable figure whose symphonic music could be stigmatized as ‘balletic’ as if that epithet in some way invalidated it. With the effortless extension of a single melodic line held to be in some way suspect – although Tchaikovsky’s tunes can run the gamut from elegance and charm to uninhibited eroticism and passion – it proved easy to overlook the incredible craftsmanship of the ballets, their mastery of form, harmony, momentum and orchestration. Tchaikovsky is rarely given credit for the discipline and professionalism of his creative life. Whatever the propensity within to violent agitation, he delivered on time and was quite prepared to submit to the exacting and precise demands of his collaborators. The expressive certainty of his invention has allowed more recent choreographers to experiment with stance and movement, often radically, confident that a firm musical narrative is permanently encoded in the notes.
a. Introduction-N.1; Moderato assai–Scène. Allegro giusto
b. N.2; Waltz. Tempo di Valse
c. N.4; Pas de trois. Intrada (allegro); andante; sostenuto; allegro semplice; presto; moderato; allegro; Coda (allegro vivace)
d. N.7-8; Subject; Dance With The Goblets (Tempo di Polacca)
e. N.10; Scene (Moderato)
f. N.11-12; Scene (Allegro moderato; allegro vivo); Scene (Allegro)
g. N.13. Dances Of The Swans–I. Tempo di Valse
h. N.13; Dances Of The Swans–V. Pas d’action. Odette et le Pince (Andante)
i. N.13; Dances Of The Swans–IV. Danse des petits cygnes (Allegro moderato)
j. N.13; Dances Of The Swans–VI. Danse générale (Valse)
k. N.13; Dances Of The Swans–II. Odette solo (Moderato assai)
l. N.13; Dances Of The Swans–VII. Coda (Allegro vivace)
m. N.15; Scene. Allegro giusto
n. N.17; Scene. Entrance & Waltz Of The Special Guests (Allegro; tempo di valse)
o. N.18; Scene. Allegro; allegro giusto
p. N.21; Spanish Dance (Allegro non troppo. Tempo di Bolero)
q. N.22; Neapolitan Dance (Allegro moderato; andantino quasi moderato)
r. N.23; Mazurka
s. N.20; Danse hongroise (Czárdás)
t. N.5; Pas de deux. Intrada; Valse; Andante; Valse; Coda (allegro molto vivace)
01. u. N.28; Scene (Allegro agitato; allegro vivace)
02. v. N.29; Finale. Andante; allegro agitato; alla breve; moderato e maestoso
03. Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello & Orchestra (abridged by Wilhelm Fitzenhagen), Op.33
04. Symphony No. 6 in B minor, ‘Pathétique’, Op.74 – I. Adagio; allegro non troppo
05. Symphony No. 6 in B minor, ‘Pathétique’, Op.74 – II. Allegro con grazia
06. Symphony No. 6 in B minor, ‘Pathétique’, Op.74 – III. Allegro molto vivace
07. Symphony No. 6 in B minor, ‘Pathétique’, Op.74 – IV. Finale. Adagio lamentoso; andante
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Ernest Ansermet – Conductor
‘A Suite in the style of Lachner’, who published seven (1861–81), composed in Russia and Italy. Inscribed cryptically to *** – Tchaikovsky’s patroness in absentia Nadezhda von Meck – it dates from the period of The Maid of Orleans and the premieres of Eugene Onegin and the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. Nikolai Rubinstein directed the first performance in Moscow, 8/20 December 1879. ‘On Saturday, the Suite was played with great success,’ reported Tchaikovsky’s publisher, Pyotr Jurgenson. ‘The [fugal] first movement did not arouse any particular enthusiasm on the part of the audience. The second [B flat major – written last, in August 1879] was liked. The Andante pleased very much, and the March [A major – which Tchaikovsky had wanted to discard on grounds of ‘doubtful merit’] drew applause which wouldn’t stop until it was repeated. The Scherzo [B flat major] was very well received. But by the time the Gavotte was played, interest flagged and the one thought in the mind of the audience was to leave as soon as possible. Rubinstein complained of the tremendous difficulties presented to the orchestra.’
‘Rooted primarily in the decorative world of the ballet divertissement [incidental scores, too, The Snow Maiden for instance] not concerned with major expressive issues’ (David Brown), the D minor Suite is finer than many commentators would lead us to believe, particularly in the hands of a committed champion like Gauk (or, later, Svetlanov). Typically, its orchestration, including triangle and glockenspiel, transforms simple ideas and cadences into an atmospheric carnival of costumes and ‘lighting’ angles.
Orchestral Suite No.2 in C Op.53 ‘Suite caractéristique’ (1883)
Dedicated to Tchaikovsky’s sister-in-law, Praskovya (who lived until 1956), this was first heard under Erdmannsdörfer in Moscow, 4/16 February 1884. Tchaikovsky himself directed the Petersburg premiere, 5/17 March 1887. To von Meck he generalised the genre: ‘for some time [the suite form has] been particularly attractive to me because of the freedom it affords the composer not to be inhibited by any
traditions, by conventional met hods and established rules’ (16/28 April 1884). Of the four examples he put together, the first three glow in vibrant images, eternal phrases (did Tchaikovsky ever write a bad tune?), and intricately detailed orchestral glamour/surprise.
Orbiting the note E (pivotally linking the keys of the five moments), No.2, as Tchaikovsky himself realised, impresses chiefly for its third and fourth movements, both originally longer: ‘I am almost certain that the Scherzo (with the accordions [four of the diatonic button variety: an extraordinary folk timbre]) and the Andante (Child’s Dreams) will please’ (to his younger brother Modest, 26 September/8 October 1883). Writing of the E major Scherzo, a thrilling chase, cinematically prescient, Brown suggests it ‘crosses into the musical territory of the Russian supernatural’. Of the A minor Andante, that it ‘contains both the most conventional and the most original music in the whole suite […] Even within the enchanted music of Sleeping Beauty, which it clearly presages, there is rarely quite the same disquieting sense of shapes indefinable and forces unknown.’ The ‘Little Russian’ finale, ‘Wild Dance in the style of Dargomizhsky’, pays homage to Dargomizshky’s Kazatchok fantasia (which Tchaikovsky had arranged for piano around 1868.
Orchestral Suite No.3 in G Op.55
Besides his symphonies and symphonic poems Tchaikovsky wrote four orchestral suites. They show, more than the works mentioned above, the extent to which the dance rhythm is the basis for his orchestral music. In all the four movements of the Third Suite (1884) this basis is always refined, but never obscured by a strong need for charm and elegance. Although the four movements have titles intended to clarify their own character, the mood on the surface in one movement is an undercurrent in another. The ‘Elegy’ is full of major-key moments and the ‘Valse romantique’ is, like a Schubertian waltz, always two coins of the same medal. In the Scherzo the dance rhythm always competes with the desire for refinement. No wonder Stravinsky admired Tchaikovsky’s art of orchestration. The finale was not meant as ballet music, but Tchaikovsky’s intention to let the music glitter and scintillate makes the listener wonder why this music is not more often heard.
Suite No.4 in G Op.61 ‘Mozartiana’ (1887)
‘Mozart I love as a musical Christ […] Mozart was a being so angelical and childlike in his purity, his music is so full of unattainably divine beauty, that if there is someone you can mention in the same breath as Christ, then it is he. […] Mozart is the highest, the culminating point which beauty has reached in the sphere of music […] In Mozart I love everything because we love everything in a person whom we truly love’ (Diary, 20 September/2 October 1886). The ‘Mozartiana’ suite adapts four short Mozart originals (according to Tchaikovsky ‘minutely enhanced and harmonically modified’), using a comparatively modest orchestra but including cymbals, glockenspiel and harp. ‘For around an hour each day I’m occupied with orchestrating piano pieces by Mozart, which by the end of the summer I should have turned into a suite of novel character (the old given contemporary treatment)’ (24 June/6 July 1887). Tchaikovsky directed the first performance in Moscow, at a Russian Musical Society concert on 14/26 November 1887.
I. Gigue: Gigue K574 (Leipzig, 16 May 1789), G major. II. Menuetto: Minuet K355 (Vienna, ?1786–87), D major. Trio section by Maximilian Stadler (1748–1833). III. Pregheira: Ave verum corpus K618 (Baden, 1746 June 1791), from Liszt’s organ transcription (Evocation à la Chapelle Sixtine, c. 1862), B flat major. IV. Thème et variations: Unser dummer Pöbel meint, after Gluck (1714–87) K455 (Vienna, 25 August 1784), G major.
Ates Orga, 2010
01. Orchestral Suite No. 1 in D minor, Op.43 – I. Introduzione e Fuga
02. Orchestral Suite No. 1 in D minor, Op.43 – II. Divertimento
03. Orchestral Suite No. 1 in D minor, Op.43 – III. Intermezzo
04. Orchestral Suite No. 1 in D minor, Op.43 – IV. Marche Miniature
05. Orchestral Suite No. 1 in D minor, Op.43 – V. Scherzo
06. Orchestral Suite No. 1 in D minor, Op.43 – VI. Gavotte
07. Orchestral Suite No. 2 in C major, ‘Suite Caractéristique’, Op.53 – I. Jeu de sons
08. Orchestral Suite No. 2 in C major, ‘Suite Caractéristique’, Op.53 – II. Valse
09. Orchestral Suite No. 2 in C major, ‘Suite Caractéristique’, Op.53 – III. Scherzo burlesque
10. Orchestral Suite No. 2 in C major, ‘Suite Caractéristique’, Op.53 – IV. Rêves d’enfant
11. Orchestral Suite No. 2 in C major, ‘Suite Caractéristique’, Op.53 – V. Danse baroque
01. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G major, Op.55 – I. Élégie. Andante molto cantabile
02. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G major, Op.55 – II. Valse mélancolique. Allegro moderato
03. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G major, Op.55 – III. Scherzo. Molto vivace
04. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G major, Op.55 – IV. Tema con Variazioni. Andante con moto
05. Orchestral Suite No. 4 in G major, ‘Mozartiana’ – I. Gigue. Allegro (Gigue, K.574)
06. Orchestral Suite No. 4 in G major, ‘Mozartiana’ – II. Menuet. Moderato (Minuet, K.355)
07. Orchestral Suite No. 4 in G major, ‘Mozartiana’ – III. Preghiera. Andante non tanto (Ave verum corpus, K.618)
08. Orchestral Suite No. 4 in G major, ‘Mozartiana’ – IV. Thème et Variations. Allegro giusto (Unser dummer Pöbel meint, K.455)
The Russian playwright Alexander Ostrovsky, born in Moscow in 1823, is generally considered the most important figure in the Russian theatrical tradition between Gogol and Chekhov.. He studied Law at University but was forced to give up the course after a disagreement with one of the Professors, and started his career as a legal clerk, a job which gave him insights into the social interaction of the Russian merchant class and civil service; these he made use of in his first comedies. Later he turned to more serious drama, for example the tragedy Groza (1859) portraying the predicament of the young wife of a despotic merchant.
Though some of his works were initially banned by the authorities, he prospered under the more liberal reign of Alexander II and enjoyed the patronage of Alexander III. In addition to his literary work he became an important administrator of the Russian stage. He became the director of the famous Maly Theatre in Moscow; interested in music, he also founded the Society of Russian Dramatic Art and Opera Composers. Ostrovsky’s Snegoruchka – Vesennyaya Skazka (The Snow Maiden – a Spring Fairy Tale), to give it its full title, stands rather apart from his more realistic works. The Maly Theatre was closed for renovation in early 1873 and its dramatic troupe had to work at the neighbouring Bolshoi Theatre, which housed the opera and ballet companies. The Bolshoi management put it to Ostrovsky that he should create a spectacle involving all three arts – acting, dancing and music. The Snow Maiden was the result, and in it he drew upon a wide range of Russian folk-tales to create a sparkling mythic synthesis. For the first production, which took place on 11 May 1873, an important score of incidental music was commissioned from the 32-year-old Tchaikovsky, who was still in the process of establishing his reputation as a composer. Although he was teaching 27 hours a week at the Moscow Conservatoire, it took him just three weeks to write the music, which he composed as soon as he received each fresh batch of text from Ostrovsky, completing it in early April.
In the event it turned out to be Tchaikovsky’s contribution, more than Ostrovsky’s, which impressed the play’s first audiences. The gorgeous production was mounted at a cost of 15,000 roubles, but was judged tobe rather static, without much dramatic action. The Snow Maiden had four performances in the spring season of 1873, and four more in the winter season of 1873–4. After one further performance, however, it disappeared from the repertoire, probably because of the expense of using all three performing companies.
Tchaikovsky’s friend and mentor Nikolai Rubinstein, who admired the score, conducted it in concert, and it has occasionally been revived without Ostrovsky’s play. Tchaikovsky himself had great affection for this music. For some years after the production he planned to expand the incidental music into an opera, and he was highly incensed when he found that Rimsky-Korsakov had written an opera of his own on Ostrovsky’s play. He wrote to his brother Modest ‘… it’s as though they’ve taken from me by force something that is innately mine and dear to me, and are presenting it to the public in bright new clothes. It makes me want to weep!’ Much later, in 1891, he would re-use some of the music of The Snow Maiden in his incidental music to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The story of The Snow Maiden, which has some similarities to that of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Mermaid’, deals with the opposition of eternal forces of nature and involves the interactions of mythological characters (Frost, Spring, the Wood-Sprite), real people (Kupava, Mizgir, Brussila), and those in-between beings who are half-mythical, half-real (the Snow Maiden, Lel the Shepherd, and Tsar Berendey). The Snow Maiden can only live if her heart remains cold, unwarmed by love. But wishing to experience a life like other girls, she enters the world of human beings and innocently ruins a wedding when the bridegroom sees her and falls in love with her. Accused by the bride, of seducing her intended husband, the Snow Maiden is brought before the Tsar, Berendey, for judgement, and she decrees that she must marry the man – with whom she has meantime fallen in love. But love’s warmth has made her vulnerable to the rays of the Sun God, and when exposed to them she melts away to nothing.
Tchaikovsky composed a large quantity of music to accompany Ostrovsky’s play. Much of it is vocal and choral, including songs for Lel and the peasant Brusilo, and a monologue for Frost. The choral contributions include such attractive inspirations as the chorus of shivering birds, the chorus of flowers, and the choral carnival procession, a picture of Russian peasant life. All the dances are attractive and in fact give a hint of the great ballet composer Tchaikovsky would soon become. In composing this score for a play based on Russian fairytale, Tchaikovsky made more lavish use of Russian folksongs than in any previous work there are about a dozen of them, which he placed in colourful settings. The Introduction, however, is borrowed from his earlier, unsuccessful opera Undine, which also provided the material for Lel’s first song.
In a letter of 1879 to his patroness Nadezhda von Meck, Tchaikovsky wrote that The Snow Maiden was ‘one of my favourite offspring. Spring is a wonderful time; I was in good spirits, as I always am at the approach of summer and three months of freedom. I think this music is imbued with the joys of spring that I was experiencing at the time’.
Malcolm MacDonald, 2010
01. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – I. Introduction
02. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – II. Dance & Choruses Of The Birds
03. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – III. Winter’s Monologue
04. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – IV. Carnival Procession
05. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – V. Melodrama
06. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – VI. Interlude
07. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – VII. Lehl’s First Song
08. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – VIII. Lehl’s Second Song
09. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – IX. Interlude
10. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – X. Chant Of The Blind Bards
11. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – XI. Melodrama
12. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – XII. Chorus Of The People And Courtiers
13. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – XIII. Round Of The Young Maidens
14. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – XIV. Dance Of The Tumblers
15. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – XV. Lehl’s Third Song
16. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – XVI. Brussila’s Song
17. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – XVII. Apparition Of The Spirit Of The Wood
18. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – XVIII. Interlude. The Spring Fairy
19. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – XIX. Tsar Berendey’s March & Chorus
20. Incidental Music to the play by Ostrovsky, ‘The Snow Maiden (Snegurochka)’ – XX. Final Chorus
Natalia Erassova – Mezzo-Soprano
Alexander Archipov – Tenor
Nikolai Vassiliev – Baritone
Russian State Chorus & Orchestra
Andrei Chistiakov – Conductor
Hamlet – Incidental Music Op.67a for soloists and orchestra, excerpts (1891)
This score was written in two weeks for a French-language benefit production of Shakespeare’s five-act tragedy at the Mikhailovski Theatre, Petersburg 9/21 February 1891. Undertaken at the request of, and as a favour to, Tchaikovsky’s friend Lucien Guitry (in the title role for would be his last appearance on the Russian stage), the music re-cycled certain old material, including the Hamlet overture-fantasia (Overture), the alla tedesca second movement of the Third Symphony (CD8, track 5), Kupava’s Lament from The Snow Maiden and the 1884 ‘Samarin’ Elegy for strings (9). Tchaikovsky had long been drawn to the story, his brother Modest having proposed it to him in 1876. ‘Hamlet is very much to my taste, but it’s devilishly difficult’. Despite being ‘well received’, the incidental music seems nevertheless to have been a chore. ‘Hamlet is coming along. But it is such unpleasant work’. Gauk’s performance cuts three of the sixteen numbers:
1 III/ii Fanfares 1 (‘Sound a flourish’) 2 (‘The dumb show enters’), Melodrama (Poison Scene enactment); IV/v Ophelia’s Second Scene (‘And will he not come again?’); (12) V Entr’acte (Churchyard). Overture (Hamlet Op 67, abbreviated); 1 Act I/i Melodrama (Elsinore. A platform before the Castle. Enter Ghost); 2 I/iv Fanfare (‘A Flourish of Trumpets’); 3 I/iv Melodrama (Enter Ghost. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: ‘Angels and ministers of grace defend us!’); 4 I/v Melodrama (The Castle. Another part of the fortifications. Enter Ghost and Hamlet. ‘I am thy father’s Spirit,/Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,/And for the day confin’d to fast in fires,/Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature/Are burnt and purg’d away’); 5 Act II Entracte, prelude to Scene i (A room in the house of Polonius [Lord Chamberlain]. Enter Ophelia [daugher to Polonius]); 6 II/ii Fanfare (A room in the Castle. Flourish. Enter King and Queen, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, [Attendants]); 7 Act III Entracte, prelude to Scene i (Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern [two courtiers], and Lords); 9 Act IV Entr-acte, prelude to Scene i (Enter King and Queen, with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern); 10 IV/v Ophelia’s ‘Mad Scene’ [soprano] (‘He is dead and gone, lady,/He is dead and gone;/At his head a grass-green turf,/At his heels a stone’); 13 Act V/i Gravedigger’s [Clown’s] Song [baritone] (Elsinore. A churchyard. ‘In youth when I did love, did love,/Methought it was very sweet;/To contract, O, the time for, ah, my behove,/O, methought there was nothing meet.); 14 V/i Funeral March (Enter [priests with ‘the fair’ Ophelia’s] coffin, King, Queen, Laertes [son to Polonius], with Lords attendant); 15 V/ii Fanfare (A hall in the Castle. ‘Drum; trumpets sound’); 16 V/ii Final March (‘Let four captains/Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage;/For he was likely, had he been put on,/To have prov’d most royally; and for his passage/The soldiers’ music and the rites of war/Speak loudly for him’).
01. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – I. Overture
02. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – II. Moderato assai
03. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – III. Allegro vivo
04. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – IV. Moderato assai
05. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – V. Allegro giusto ed agitato
06. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – VI. Allegro semplice
07. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – VII. Fanfare
08. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – VIII. Andante quasi allegretto
09. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – IX. Andante non troppo
10. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – X. Andantino ‘Elsinore’, Mad Scene
11. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – XI. Andantino
12. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – XII. Marcia. Moderato assai
13. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – XIII. Allegro giusto
14. Incidental Music for Soprano, Baritone & Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a – XIV. Allegro risoluto ma non troppo
USSR State Radio & TV Symphony Orchestra
Manfred – Symphony in four scenes after Byron Op.58 (1885)
Dedicated to Balakirev and premiered in Moscow by Max Erdmannsdörfer at a Russian Musical Society concert in memory of Nikolai Rubinstein, 11/23 March 1886, Manfred was Tchaikovsky’s programme epic. The spirit, if not always incident, of Byron’s Faustian poem of 1816–17 inspired it. Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Harold in Italy, Liszt’s Faust and Dante, cyclic motto and idée fixe, Influenced it. The notion of such a work, to the point of mapping out a dramatic, key and orchestration plan, was Balakirev’s; he got the idea from the critic Vladimir Stasov around 1867–68, fired by Berlioz’s second visit to Russia. Tchaikovsky wasn’t enthusiastic. ‘A design to imitate Berlioz […] at the moment it leaves me absolutely cold, and when imagination and the heart are unwarmed, it is hardly worth trying to compose. To please you I could, to use your expression, exert myself to screw out a whole series of more or less interesting episodes, including conventionally gloomy music to indicate Manfred’s hopeless disillusionment, lots of effective spangles of instrumentation for the “Alpine fairy” scherzo, high violins for sunrise, pianissimo trombones for Manfred’s death. I would be able to furnish these episodes with harmonic curiosities and piquances, and then send them out into the world under the high-flowing title Manfred: Symphonie d’aprés, etc. I might even receive praise for the fruits of my labours, but such writing doesn’t attract me in the least’ (12/24 November 1882). Once committed, he was in two minds about the result. ‘I may be wrong but it seems to me to be the best of my compositions’ (1885). ‘This production is abomidable. With the exception of the first movement, I deeply loathe it’ (1888).
Each movement is prefaced by a scenario.
I. B minor/D major ‘Manfred wanders in the Alps. Tormented by the fatal anguish of doubt, torn by remorse and despair, his soul is the prey of sufferings without name. Neither the occult sciences, whose mysteries he has fathomed, and by means of which the powers of darkness are subject to his will, nor anything in the world can bring to him the forgetfulness which alone he covets. The memory of the
beautiful Astarte [Milton’s ‘queen of heaven, with crescent horns’], who he has loved and lost, gnaws at his heart [second subject, change of tempo and metre]. Nothing can lift the curse which lies heavily on Manfred’s soul, and which unceasingly and without truce delivers him to the tortures of the most grievious
II. B minor/D major ‘The Fairy [Byron’s Witch] of the Alps appears to Manfred under the rainbow of the mountain torrent’ (Act II/ii).
III. G major ‘Pastorale. The simple, free and peaceful life of the mountaineers.’
IV. B minor/Astarte’s phantom: D flat major/Requiem: C major–B major ‘The subterranean palace of Arimanes [the Zoroastrian demon-spirit ‘who walks the clouds and waters”, Act II/iv, enemy of light and good’]. Manfred appears in the midst of a bacchanale [not in Byron]. Invocation of the phantom of Astarte. She predicts the end of his earthly misery. Manfred’s death [‘Old man! ’tis not so difficult to die’].’ For the closing pathétique pages, Tchaikovsky specifies a harmonium (not organ).
Ates Orga, 2010
Romeo and Juliet – Fantasy Overture after Shakespeare
Mily Balakirev, besides being a remarkable composer in his own right, was one of the most important figures in Russian music in terms of his influence on his fellow composers. During the summer of 1869 Balakirev suggested to Tchaikovsky that he compose a concert piece on Romeo and Juliet and by November Tchaikovsky completed it. The piece was performed the following March under Nicholas Rubinstein’s direction and made a depressingly poor impression in Moscow. A revised version was presented in 1870 but fared no better abroad. Finally, in 1880, with the Fourth Symphony successfully making its way through the world Tchaikovsky returned to Romeo and Juliet and prepared the version we know today, which he designated not simply ‘Overture’, as he had the two earlier versions, but ‘Fantasy
Overture’. This time there was no question of the work’s success, and when Tchaikovsky undertook conducting tours in Europe and America he was virtually compelled to include Romeo and Juliet on every program.
01. Symphony in B minor after Lord Byron, ‘Manfred’, Op.58 – I. Lento lugubre
02. Symphony in B minor after Lord Byron, ‘Manfred’, Op.58 – II. Vivace con spirito
03. Symphony in B minor after Lord Byron, ‘Manfred’, Op.58 – III. Andante con moto
04. Symphony in B minor after Lord Byron, ‘Manfred’, Op.58 – IV. Allegro con fuoco
London Symphony Orchestra
05. Fantasy Overture after W. Shakespeare, ‘Romeo & Juliet’
Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony is forever associated with the tragedy of his sudden death. In the last year of his life, 1893, the composer began work on a new symphony. Sketches dated from as early as February, but progress was slow. Concert tours to France and England and the awarding of a doctorate of music from Cambridge cut into the time available for composition. Thus, though Tchaikovsky could compose quickly when the muse was with him, it was not until the end of August that he was able to complete the Sixth Symphony. Its premiere, with the composer himself on the podium, was given in St. Petersburg two months later, on October 28. The work seemed unusually somber, particularly in its finale that, both in tempo and dynamics, fades into nothingness. Tchaikovsky’s brother Modest suggested at the time that the work ought To be called by the French word ‘pathétique’, meaning melancholy, and Tchaikovsky supposedly agreed, but if Modest or anyone else bothered to ask the reason behind the symphony’s gloomy mood, Tchaikovsky’s answer is lost to time. His only remembered comment about the new piece is, ‘Without exaggeration, I have put my whole soul into this work.’ Nine days later, on November 6, the composer was dead. His family blamed cholera, but physician’s statements were contradictory and friends were skeptical. Cholera, they insisted, was a poor man’s disease, almost unheard of amongst the upper classes. Surely Tchaikovsky would have known how to prevent exposure. In addition, as the composer’s friend and colleague Rimsky-Korsakov commented in his own memoirs, cholera would have precluded the open-casket ceremony that actually occurred. Why, Rimsky asks, were mourners allowed to kiss the departed goodbye? On that question, Tchaikovsky’s family remained determinedly silent.
At the time, the mystery remained unresolved. However, evidence that came to light in 1978 suggests that Tchaikovsky spent his last months distraught over a barely concealed scandal in his personal life. The homosexuality that he had fought throughout adulthood to conceal was about to become public knowledge. Did he commit suicide in the hope that ending his life would also silence the rumors? It is entirely possible, for deep depressions were common to him. Furthermore, he had attempted suicide at least once before. Perhaps this was another attempt that was also meant to fail, but instead tragically succeeded.
Musicologists with psychological leanings have tried to associate the possibility of suicide with the fact of the somber symphony. They see parallels between the composer’s increasing despair and the symphony’s fading conclusion. Certainly, other composers have written minor key symphonies without taking their own lives, but the usual expectation was that a symphony, even one in a minor key, would end with energy, if not with optimism. Yet Tchaikovsky’s final symphonic statement slowly dissipates into ever-deepening gloom. It is, some suggest, the musical voice of suicidal depression. However, such an analysis ignores an historical fact. Tchaikovsky began work on the piece nearly a year before its premiere, long before the rumors started. At that time, he wrote to his nephew that the new symphony would conclude with what he called ‘an adagio of considerable dimensions’, which is certainly the manner in which the work ultimately concludes. If this composition is evidence of a troubled mind, then that mood had persisted for many months. What is more likely is that the symphony was simply the ultimate expression of Tchaikovsky’s life long obsession with dark emotions.
The Storm (1864) is one of Tchaikovsky’s first orchestral efforts. Although later generations tended not to give it the recognition accorded to the mature, last three symphonies, this early work already reveals many aspects of the fully matured musician. First, the desire to give the piece a programmatic content, if not programmatic character. The form is determined by the content – in fact Tchaikovsky reproached Brahms for restricting the drama of life into the confines of sonata form. In this case the inspiration came from Ostrovsky’s novella Kat’ya Kabanova, which also inspired Leos Janácek. When a man leaves for business reasons, his wife succumbs to her passion for another man. When her husband returns, a storm breaks out with fatal consequences. Secondly, in terms of musical style Tchaikovsky is heavily influenced by Berlioz, especially as far as instrumentation is concerned. And finally his love for French elegance, charm and ballet, even when it is disguised by drama.
01. Symphony No. 6 in B minor, ‘Pathétique’, Op.74 – I. Adagio; allegro non troppo
02. Symphony No. 6 in B minor, ‘Pathétique’, Op.74 – II. Allegro con grazia
03. Symphony No. 6 in B minor, ‘Pathétique’, Op.74 – III. Allegro molto vivace
04. Symphony No. 6 in B minor, ‘Pathétique’, Op.74 – IV. Finale. Adagio lamentoso; andante
05. Overture for Orchestra, ‘The Storm
If Tchaikovsky’s talent had been no better than his own assessment of himself, his music would have turned to dust a century ago, dismissed as the mediocre scribblings of a man with nothing to say, for such was his usual view of his own creations. Surviving letters and diaries attest that he rarely had faith in his own abilities. The composer’s own words prove to modern observers his personal conviction that his finished compositions were worthless and future ones might never come to life. In the spring of 1888, Tchaikovsky wrote to his brother about a seemingly insurmountable dry spell. ‘Have I written myself out?’ he laments.
‘No ideas, no inclination?’ Even months later, once he had spent his summer vacation at work on a new symphony, he remained despondent, proclaiming to his patron, Madame Nadezhda von Meck, ‘There is something repellent about it … This symphony will never please the public.’ But Tchaikovsky was wrong. That symphony, that ‘repellent’ work, was his Fifth Symphony, today one of his most-performed
compositions, an epic expression of musical energy and anxiety. This was, for Tchaikovsky, his second consecutive symphony to be based on a central, programmatic theme, a theme that in both cases he imagined as representing Fate. Why the composer found the concept of Fate to be worthy of repeated musical exposition is a question best left to psychologists; musicologists content themselves with a study of how Tchaikovsky, having resolved for whatever reason to explore Fate, goes about that exploration. In his Fourth Symphony, he chose a brass-and-bassoon motto of frightening intensity, like the sudden appearance of a formidable foe. By contrast, his Fifth Symphony is more evocative of the distant rumble of a funeral march, as the clarinets intone a low and somber theme. As the symphony progresses, the theme returns in various guises, sometimes wistful, at other times imposing, but the general motion is toward an increasing mood of optimism, until, in the finale, Tchaikovsky transforms his Fate theme into a triumphal march. This, one feels, is how life truly should be: Fate yielding to mankind’s yearning for a happy ending.
Capriccio italien Op.45 (1880)
A virtuoso showpiece in the pot-pourri style of Glinka, anticipating the picture-postcard Italy of Richard Strauss and Respighi. ‘I believe a good fortune may be predicted,’ Tchaikovsky wrote. ‘It will be effective, thanks to the delightful [folk] tunes which I have succeeded in assembling partly from anthologies, partly through my own ears on the streets’. Reportedly the opening fanfare was based on a trumpet call from the barracks next to the hotel in Rome where Tchaikovsky was staying. Critics have judged the piece harshly, but its popularity has never waned – a rousing arsenal of tricks and orchestral effects gleamingly polished.
01. Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op.64 – I. Andante; allegro con anima
02. Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op.64 – II. Andante cantabile con alcuna licenza; moderato con anima
03. Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op.64 – III. Valse. Allegro moderato
04. Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op.64 – IV. Finale. Andante maestoso; allegro vivace
05. ‘Capriccio Italien’ for Orchestra, Op.45
London Symphony Orchestra
Gennady Rozhdestvensky – Conductor
Nearly every major composer has endured a watermark year in which personal crises affected the future development of his music. For Beethoven, that year was 1802, when encroaching deafness drove him to the verge of suicide. For Wagner, it was 1848 when the Dresden Revolution forced him to rethink his political convictions. For Tchaikovsky, the year of turmoil was 1877. Though his greatest masterworks still lay in the future, the composer had already proven his mettle with three symphonies, several operas, the Rococo Variations and the ballet Swan Lake. He was also benefiting from the recent acquisition of a patron, Madame Nadezhda von Meck, whose financial support had allowed him to concentrate more fully upon composition. All of those aspects were positive influences upon Tchaikovsky’s life; the crisis lay in a sudden and very ill-considered marriage. A former student of the composer’s had become deeply infatuated with him, and swore that, if he did not marry her, she would take her life. Concerned for the girl’s well-being, Tchaikovsky agreed to the marriage, even though taking a woman into his home was the last thing his own inclinations would have led him to do. They married in the summer. His nervous breakdown came in the fall, at which point his doctors recommended that he never see the young woman again. Soon, the composer and his brother Anatoly had left Russia for Switzerland in hope of finding solace for poor Peter’s battered spirit.
As so often happened, Tchaikovsky sought consolation in composition, plunging back into his sketches for the opera Eugene Onegin, and beginning the orchestration of his new symphony, the fourth of what would ultimately be six works in the genre. By late in the year, he was able to give an optimistic report to Madame von Meck, writing, ‘Never yet has any of my orchestral works cost me so much labor, but I’ve never yet felt such love for any of my things … Perhaps I’m mistaken, but it seems to me that this Symphony is better than anything I’ve done so far.’ Such enthusiasm was rather unusual for the composer, who more often expressed a loathing for his works, but here, it seems, he knew that he had exceeded even his own demanding standards. He completed the new symphony on Christmas Day, by the Russian calendar, in 1877 (January 7, 1878 by the Western calendar). The piece bore a dedication ‘to my best friend’, a reference to Madame von Meck, who agreed to accept the honor only on the grounds of anonymity.
The Fourth Symphony premiered in Moscow that same winter with the composer’s mentor Nikolay Rubinstein conducting. A few months later, a colleague of Tchaikovsky’s, the composer Sergei Taneyev, criticized the piece for being programmatic, that is, for having a plot. Tchaikovsky defended his creation, declaring, ‘I don’t see why you consider this a defect. On the contrary, I should be sorry if symphonies that mean nothing should flow from my pen, consisting solely of a progression of harmonies, rhythms and modulations … As a matter of fact, the work is patterned after Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, not as to musical content but as to the basic idea.’ Tchaikovsky’s statement begs a question as to what this ‘basic idea’ might be. After all, the answer to that question would not only help us to interpret the Russian master’s creation; it would also shed light on what Tchaikovsky saw as the central concept of the Beethoven piece. Fortunately, Tchaikovsky provides us with an answer in a letter to Madame von Meck in which he outlined what he viewed as the program for his Fourth Symphony. According to the composer himself, the ominous opening theme for horns and bassoons represents fate hanging over one’s head like a sword. This all-consuming gloom devours the few, brief glimpses of happiness, appearing mostly in the form of waltz themes. The second movement, Tchaikovsky asserted, expresses the melancholy felt at the end of a weary day. Then, in the third movement, he imagined what he called ‘fleeting images that pass through the imagination when one has begun to drink a little wine’. The fourth movement holds Tchaikovsky’s prescription for happiness. Here’s how he described it: ‘If you cannot find reasons for happiness in yourself, look at others. Get out among the people … Oh, how gay they are! … Life is bearable after all.’ And so, to summarize Tchaikovsky’s view, this is a symphony that brings us from gloom to melancholy to slow recovery to life-affirming energy. It is a progression from darkness to light, a progression that we can sense in Tchaikovsky’s Fourth as well as in Beethoven’s Fifth.
The Marche slave (1876) is one of Tchaikovsky’s few musical comments on actual events. After Montenegro and Serbia declared war on Turkey because of the Turkish atrocities against Christians, a wave of religiously inspired nationalism went through Russia, Serbia’s ally. Tchaikovsky responded to this climate by writing a march which includes three Serbian folk melodies plus the national Russian anthem. The composer didn’t like the piece but didn’t say why. Maybe because he was not a fan of pomp and circumstance in bombastic form and he preferred to present existing melodies in a much more stylised form. The audience at the premiere on 17 November 1876 in Moscow had a totally different view. The piece was a tremendous success, the march had to be encored and many in the hall wept .
01. Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op.36 – I. Andante sostenuto; moderato con anima
02. Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op.36 – II. Andantino in modo di canzona
03. Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op.36 – III. Scherzo. Pizzicato ostinato
04. Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op.36 – IV. Finale. Allegro con fuoco
05. ‘Marche Slave’ for Orchestra, Op.31
London Symphony Orchestra
Gennady Rozdestvensky – Conductor
The premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Third Symphony took place in 1875, a year that had not begun well for the composer. After months of effort, he completed his First Piano Concerto and played it for Rubinstein, who, contrary to his usual effusive support, found nothing kind to say. It was the first major conflict between mentor and protegé, and Tchaikovsky was deeply hurt by Rubinstein’s cold words. He spent summer vacation licking his wounds at the Kamenka estate belonging to his sister and her husband. There, he found the spirit to compose again, and in less than two months, wrote a symphony from start to finish. This was the first of his symphonies to entirely meet his own approval, the first that he did not judge to need extensive revision. Rubinstein, too, thought highly of the new score. Forgetting his cruel reception of the piano concerto, he agreed to give the new symphony its premiere and conducted the work in Moscow that fall.
This symphony carries the nickname ‘Polish’. The name was not chosen by Tchaikovsky himself, but rather by the English conductor Sir August Manns, who led the work in a London performance. Manns was inspired in his choice of labels by the Polish dance rhythms of the final movement, but in fact, those rhythms are not to be found elsewhere in the work. One might just as well have called the symphony
‘German’ for its alla tedesca second movement, or ‘Russian’ for the composition’s various other themes. Rather than imagining that the Third Symphony speaks of this or that nationality, a listener would be better served to view the piece as representative only of Tchaikovsky himself and of the way in which he was able to synthesize the finest elements of a wealth of styles so as to produce a voice that was uniquely his own.
Hamlet – Fantasy Overture
Shakespeare’s present reputation as one of the greatest authors ever dates from the early days of Romanticism. Before that he didn’t fit into the aesthetic principles of Classicism. Romanticism, in a sense an anti-Classical movement, adored his work for the unpredictability of his characters, the non-schematic approach to form, the impossibility of knowing a person completely and the difficulty for man to make and defend decisions. Shakespeare’s Hamlet was the archetypical romantic persona and consequently brought to life in many art forms. When Tchaikovsky outlined the piece (1888–1891), he also explained that he was inspired by the character Fortinbras in the play. Three years later he wrote some incidental music for a performance of the play in Paris. Afterwards he revised his Hamlet Overture and included material from the incidental music. Maybe the mix of an older form with new added elements explains the difficulty contemporaries had in explaining the structure of this music.
01. Symphony No. 3 in D major, ‘Polish’, Op.29 – I. Introduzione e allegro; moderato assai (Tempo di marcia funebre); allegro brillante
02. Symphony No. 3 in D major, ‘Polish’, Op.29 – II. Alla tedesca; allegro moderato e semplice
03. Symphony No. 3 in D major, ‘Polish’, Op.29 – III. Andante elegiaco
04. Symphony No. 3 in D major, ‘Polish’, Op.29 – IV. Scherzo. Allegro vivo
05. Symphony No. 3 in D major, ‘Polish’, Op.29 – V. Finale. Allegro con fuoco (Tempo di Pollaca)
06. Fantasy Overture in F minor for Orchestra, ‘Hamlet’, Op.67a
Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio