Recorded on 01/01/1980, uploaded on 02/21/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Tchaikovsky spent the summer of 1867 with his brothers, Modest and Anatoly, and the Davydov family at Hapsal, a town on the shores of the Baltic Sea in modern-day Estonia. During this getaway, he composed his Souvenir de Hapsal, op. 2, a set of three miniatures for the piano which he dedicated to Vera Davydova. Nikolai Rubinstein, who had recently offered the composer a professorship at the Moscow Conservatory, premiered the second piece of the set the following year. However, it is the third piece, Chant sans paroles (Song without Words) that has become the most popular with performers and audiences alike. It has since been transcribed for numerous instrumental combinations, including an orchestral version Max Erdmannsdörfer that pleased Tchaikovsky so much that he conducted it himself.
The Chant sans paroles is a blithe piece in F major. Its song-like melody has a sense of expectation and excitement about it, emphasized by the offbeat chords of the piano accompaniment, that feels as if it could at any moment break the vocal quality altogether. In its central episode, the piece becomes more passionate, first with a subtle implication of the relative minor and then with the appearance of a new melodic motif marked energico. The music quickly recedes from this high point into a truncated reprise of the first theme before slowly fading away into the final tonic chords. Joseph DuBose
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