Recorded on 11/23/2011, uploaded on 04/15/2012
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
In 1875, while Tchaikovsky was completing his first ballet Swan Lake, he was approached by Nikolay Matveyevich Bernard, editor of the music magazine Nouvellist, to compose a set of twelve pieces for the piano each depicting a month of the year—a collection that came to be known as The Seasons. Tchaikovsky accepted the commission, mainly as a means of supplementing his income, and Bernard promised his readers a new piece from the composer each month of the year throughout 1876. The first two pieces, January and February, were sent off to Bernard in December 1875 to ensure they were written in the style Bernard wished. The remaining pieces, however, were forced to wait until Tchaikovsky had finished the orchestration of Swan Lake in April of the following year. Many of the pieces are simple in construction often embodying a modest ternary design. Yet, despite Tchaikovsky’s apparent nonchalant approach to these compositions, they are nevertheless beautiful miniatures for the piano.
Undoubtedly, the most popular of the set is June: Barcarolle. In the published edition of The Seasons, Bernard included the epigraph from Aleksey Pleshcheyev:
Let us go to the shore; there the waves will kiss our feet. With mysterious sadness the stars will shine down on us.
A memorable piece in G minor, which is incidentally the same key as Vivaldi’s Summer from The Four Seasons, the piece begins with a slow, somewhat lazy, Andante cantabile. This section and its reprise frame a livelier middle episode in G major. Joseph DuBose
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky June: Barcarolle from The Seasons, Op. 37
In 1875 Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write 12 short piano pieces, one for each month of the year. The story goes that each month the composer would sit down to write a single piece, but only after being reminded to do so by his valet. Many of the pieces can be easily played by amateurs but for a professional artist-pianist they are a great challenge; it is their simplicity that makes them so difficult. The poetic epigraph for June (Barcarolle) reads: “Let us go to the shore; there the waves will kiss our legs. With mysterious sadness the stars will shine down on us.” Victor Goldberg
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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