Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The Seasons
May: White Nights
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. May: White Nights has a small poem by Afansay Fet at the front of the score:
What a night! What bliss is all about!
I thank my native north country!
From the kingdom of ice and snow,
How fresh and clean May flies in!
Set in G major and marked Andantino, this slow and thoughtful month welcomes the height of spring into its arms. Led by the upper register of the piano, the sweet melody shows the composer’s softer style of writing. Coloured with nuanced dissonances throughout, the largely tonal piece is led by quick changes to show a change in character. The faster central section shows urgency, whereas the opening showed anything but. As the intensity grows, the piano reaches the climax of the music before slowly drawing back down to the slower and quieter opening section.
Ⓒ Alex Burns
You might also enjoy… Tchaikovsky Seasons 2021