Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The Seasons 

June: Barcarolle


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 Music

The publishers of The Seasons added approved epigraphs to the start of each score of the Russian original. June: Barcarolle  has a small poem by Aleksey Pleshcheyev at the front of the score:


Let us go to the shore;

there the waves will kiss our feet.

With mysterious sadness

the stars will shine down on us.


This summer-inspired and laid-back piano piece is reminiscent of a sunny day in June. As the epigraph suggests, the music depicts that of a walk through the summer breeze on a beach. Written in a barcarolle style, the lyrical theme that opens the piece returns later in the piece. The simple accompaniment in the left hand gives the melody space to grow into fruition. The central section picks up the tempo somewhat and sees both hands grow in dynamic and play as one voice more. 

The return of the opening theme comes after the main climax of the piece where the right hand flourishes to the top of the piano. The main theme gives the listener some grounding again as the theme grows between the two hands. After a small surge in the tempo, June: Barcarolle concludes with a delicate flourish in the upper register of the piano. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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You might also enjoy…  Tchaikovsky Seasons 2021


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