Recorded on 06/10/2011, uploaded on 07/10/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Save for the Waltz in F-sharp minor and the Danse russe (Nos. 9 and 10), the pieces that make up Tchaikovsky’s 12 Morceaux, difficulté moyen, op.40 were written between February and April 1878, thus making them contemporary with the Violin Concerto and Grand Piano Sonata in G. In a letter to his patroness, Nadezhda von Meck, written from Florence, Tchaikovsky expressed his aim to write a new piece each morning. He continued work on these pieces as he travelled from Florence to Clarens, Switzerland, and by April, he had finished the drafts of the 12 Morceaux in Kamenka. Though the autograph bears no dedication, Tchaikovsky dedicated the published edition to his brother, Modest.
The eighth piece of the set is a typical energetic Tchaikovsky waltz. In the key of A-flat major, the principal theme spins about in a graceful manner atop a simple accompaniment and often gets caught up in a duple rhythm. The trio shifts to the key of the subdominant with a repetitive melody and even more persistent hemiolas. The waltz winds down in its final bars, as the melody is imitated in the bass, and quiet punctuated chords bring it to a close.
An early version of the ninth piece, another waltz, appeared in June 1876 in the notebook of Sergei Taneev, a fellow Russian composer. An almost Schumann-esque piece in F-sharp minor, this second waltz comes off with a greater seriousness than its predecessor with a more involved accompaniment that imitates the melody of the right hand. The trio, in the key of the relative major, adopts a gentle syncopated melody over an accompaniment of reiterated chords. Overall restrained in its demeanor, the waltz becomes suddenly aggressive in its final measures as an ascending arpeggio leads to a forte concluding tonic chord.
Lastly, the tenth piece, Danse russe was originally sketched as an additional number in the ballet Swan Lake. Written as a dumka, the opening section in A minor is stately but with an inherent exuberance held at bay. The closing section takes flight (marked Allegro molto vivace) and features brilliant scales and lively rhythms. Joseph DuBose
From Round 1 of the Tchaikovsky International Competition, Moscow 2011
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