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. November: Troika has a small poem by Nikolay Nekrasov at the front of the score:
In your loneliness do not look at the road,
and do not rush out after the troika.
Suppress at once and forever
the fear of longing in your heart.
A unison opening passage sets the pastoral scene for November. Moving from D minor to E major, the bright tonality of this movement complements the somewhat darker character of October. The rush of cascading broken chords fills the atmosphere before a quirky melodic interjection takes your ear elsewhere. The bounce within the music shows Tchaikovsky’s jovial side as the fun melody sweeps between the hands.
At the end of most phrases, Tchaikovsky yearns back to the opening material, be it a chordal sequence or a quick melodic recap, he always keeps the roots in the opening theme. After a sparkling accompaniment from the right hand supports the low-pitched left hand melody, November comes to a quiet and subdued conclusion.
Ⓒ Alex Burns
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