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. April: Snowdrop has a small poem by Apollon Maykov at the front of the score:
The blue, pure snowdrop — flower,
and near it the last snowdrops.
The last tears over past griefs,
and first dreams of another happiness.
The peppy dance set in 6/8 time sees the right hand take the lead with the melody. The off-beat left hand accompaniment adds a bounce to the music as the melody runs up and down the piano. This month, unlike March, is much more joyful and hopeful in character, which adds to the charm of this piece. Marked ‘Allegretto’, the quick speed keeps the music light and the falling of snowdrops is delicate. One of the shorter pieces in The Seasons, April: Snowdrop is a lovely exploration of Tchaikovsky’s sweeter melodic style.
Ⓒ Alex Burns
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