Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The Seasons
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed his twelve character pieces for piano, The Seasons, at the same time that he was writing his popular ballet, Swan Lake. Each piece in The Seasons depicts a different month of the year in Russia. Although originally composed for solo piano, some of the movements have been orchestrated for different kinds of ensembles, although none of these were done by Tchaikovsky. For each month in 2021, Classicalexburns will be exploring the same month from The Seasons. So look out for these once-a-month instalments throughout 2021!
The publishers of The Seasons added approved epigraphs to the start of each score of the Russian original. February: Carnival has a small poem by Pyotr Vyazemsky at the front of the score:
At the lively Mardi Gras
soon a large feast will overflow.
Set in a sunny D major, the carnival atmosphere is set by the piano right from the beginning. Nuanced dissonances are scattered through the fast-paced melodies that swarm the entirety of the piano. The bright and bold unison passages break up the chaotic scalic runs that rise and fall throughout the piece. The excitement and drive is high, even through the slightly quieter section in the middle of the piece. The delicate quiet responses to the bold proclamations offer light and shade to the music, with Tchaikovsky’s intricate writing being at the centre of the music. The piece becomes much quieter before finishing with a thrilling flourish.
Ⓒ Alex Burns
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