tones

Focus on...Tchaikovsky

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I was listening to the "Romeo and Juliet" overture and was stunned all over again by both the the stunning brilliance of the music and the arrangement. To me, Pyotor Illych Tchaikovsky was the greatest tune writer the planet has ever seen. Think of those ballet suites, the symphonies (especially the last movement of the 5th, in which great tunes are used as throwaway lines), the (in)famous first piano concerto, which never quite lives up to one of the most magnificent openings in all music. All from, well, basically, a miserable git. Pete was both homosexual, epileptic and possibly manic-depressive. He entered into a marriage of convenience to silence the rumours - it was a disaster. He was saved by Madame von Meck who sponsored him (thus saving him from teaching to earn money, something for which he was manifestly unsuited), on the odd condition that they never met. (They were said to have passed on the street once, without realising it). His reaction to the ending of the arrangement was the 6th Symphony (Pathétique). In the end, he drank the water in St. Petersburg in the middle of a cholera epidemic and died as a result.

He had very fixed ideas about other composers - he thought Brahms was a nonentity, but he loved Mozart (hence the gorgeous Variations on a Rococo Theme). He refused to be overtly Russian, like "the Five", led by Rimsy-Korsakov, and thus became the first Russian composer with an international following.

So, Romeo and Juliet, by Herbie von K., a master of the Russian romantic repertoire:

[video=youtube;tnyC2uwJ4qg]

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Hi Tony,

I enjoyed your thoughts. Have to agree that he sure could compose a great tune! That said, I think his orchestration / flourishes are stunning and so very recognisable.

I am a regular listener of the symphonies in particular. I like this boxset - great sound quality as well as interpretation:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B003XWFLTM/ref=mp_s_a_1_1/280-2297324-9471934?qid=1410441414&sr=1-1π=SY200_QL40

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For me it has to be the Souvenir de Florence which is my absolute favourite Tchaik -

[video=youtube;Q6X2XcqjqMw]

:)

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The Second Piano Concerto is a much better all=round work to me than the first - especially in a performance like this (which is staggering)

download.jpeg

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The Second Piano Concerto is a much better all=round work to me than the first - especially in a performance like this (which is staggering)

(now tries to work out how to post a pic...)

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To me, Pyotor Illych Tchaikovsky was the greatest tune writer the planet has ever seen.

Hmmm, not quite in same class as Dvorak or Schubert IMO ;-)

I'm hot & cold on Tchaikovsky.... too much over-florid sentimentality in much of his work IMO, I don't much like grown-men-crying sort of music! And I totally agree with Hanslick about his violin concerto, and feel much the same about 1st piano concerto.

However, his 6th Symphony is one of the greatest ever, and the 4th is definitely a high ranker too, but I find the 5th a bit laboured. His Hamlet overture is not nearly as well known as it deserves to be, and sounds very like a conscious effort to imitate Brahms's Tragic Overture - I don't believe Tchaikovsky held Brahms in low regard.

The Piano Trio is also a stonking masterpiece.

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Hmmm, not quite in same class as Dvorak or Schubert IMO ;-)

I'm hot & cold on Tchaikovsky.... too much over-florid sentimentality in much of his work IMO, I don't much like grown-men-crying sort of music! And I totally agree with Hanslick about his violin concerto, and feel much the same about 1st piano concerto.

However, his 6th Symphony is one of the greatest ever, and the 4th is definitely a high ranker too, but I find the 5th a bit laboured. His Hamlet overture is not nearly as well known as it deserves to be, and sounds very like a conscious effort to imitate Brahms's Tragic Overture - I don't believe Tchaikovsky held Brahms in low regard.

The Piano Trio is also a stonking masterpiece.

I have a lot of time for him as a composer. The ballet music is incredible- the entire Nutcracker is worth sitting and listening to right through. There's stuff in it I didn't get 30 years ago. The old complaint that his symphonies sound too much like theatre music and vice verse is true up to a point.

I remember the Telegraph critic telling me 30 years ago that his favourite symphony was the Manfred- and it is very different from the others. Sat through a brilliant reading by Petrenko in Berlin a few years ago- sledgehammer dynamics. The musical world would be a duller place if he hadn't been born.

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The symphonies can sound like overblown, sentimental pap if played in an over-Romantic cloying way. However, they are all very fine works indeed if you follow the directions in the scores (including the 5th). Listen to Mravinsky for the finest Russian performances, or Karajan (earlier 60s cycle) is also very fine in a Germanic way - unsurprisingly.

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I'd add that, when it came to waltzes, Pete could blow the Strausses into the weeds - my very favourite waltz is the one from Eugene Onegin:

[video=youtube;Cz7JREul22g]

What a gorgeous tune!

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The Wikipedia article on Tchaikovsky is an interesting read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyotr_Ilyich_Tchaikovsky

What I, as a musical ignoramus, found interesting was the disconnect between native Russian musical forms and the Western tradition, and the difficulty of marrying these two alien concepts. Which, to me, makes Tchaikovsky's achievements all the more remarkable.

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I have to say that I find a lot of Tchaikovsky either nice but too twee or like a teenager screaming 'I hate you!' in musical form. Apart from Manfred the earlier work like the first symphony is much more to my taste.

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Tones I normally find myself in complete accord with you but whilst of course Tch is no doubt great for the odd dance I find it all over indulgent grandiose clever for clevers sake nonsense. Here's the analogy - Mozart Clarinet Concerto = Jazz, Beethoven III = rock'n'roll, Tch = prog rock!!!!!

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Tones I normally find myself in complete accord with you but whilst of course Tch is no doubt great for the odd dance I find it all over indulgent grandiose clever for clevers sake nonsense. Here's the analogy - Mozart Clarinet Concerto = Jazz, Beethoven III = rock'n'roll, Tch = prog rock!!!!!

Chacun à son goût, ol' hoss. I have distinctly plebeian tastes - I am totally unequipped to render profound musical opinions and could never resist a great tune (and Pete is full of great tunes).

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Chacun à son goût,
My family advise that is one of Robbie Williams tattoos!

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