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. December: Christmas has a small poem by Vasily Zhukovsky at the front of the score:
Once upon a Christmas night
the girls were telling fortunes:
taking their slippers off their feet
and throwing them out of the gate.
The sweet opening melody is laden with decoration which brings out the warm Ab major tonality. Tchaikovsky sweeps the hands up and down the piano as the deceptively quick theme bundles through. The light-hearted music, inspired by Christmas antics, is supported by a well-thought out structure from the composer, who ensures each section showcases the warm melodies. A small growth in dynamic adds to the intensity near the end of the piece before the material is presented one final time. December: Christmas concludes with a sparkling theme before the final chord.
Ⓒ Alex Burns
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