Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) 
Serenade in C op. 48 for string orchestra

Pezzo in forma di Sonatina

Finale (Tema Russo)


Tchaikovsky's Serenade was written in 1880 during one of the happier periods of his life. He wrote it whilst composing the 1812 Overture which he had promised everyone world be 'noisy'. Of the serenade he wrote "I am passionately in love with this work" The Serenade was first performed in Moscow at the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire in 1882.

This passion is immediately felt in the grand opening of the Serenade with its heraldic passages for celli and bassi and later violins. As the movement continues into Allegro moderato the impetus of swinging melodies is breathtaking. The interplay of all the string sections creates woodwind like effects. The movement closes with repeat of the solemn introduction before a flamboyant and bright arpeggio closes the movement.

The Waltz with its superb and vibrant melody seems to capture the electric atmosphere of a ball. As the melody develops one feels the masculine quality of the second violins and celli as they take up the Waltz - gentlemen courting the girls who surround the ballroom and whose teasing laughter is heard in the high accompanying figures of the first violins. An amusing interchange between instruments brings the Waltz with its final pizzicati to an elegant close.

The Elégie: The opening larghetto is a superb example of that feeling of longing which turns to resignation so often found in Russian music. The beautiful duets in the poco piu animato section, which rise and die away accompanied by triplets, are suddenly interrupted by a romantic outburst by violas. Their melody is followed by the superb 'ballet' episode with violin octaves.

After the cellos impassioned passage and stringendo with the first violins, a dramatic silence occurs. The expressive larghetto returns. Continued passion over a strange throbbing heartbeat from the double basses draws the movement to a close on a flageolet D.

The Finale (Tema Russo) :The Andante, which also opens on D (creating a feeling of continuity) introduces the first of two Russian folksongs. Pictures are painted in the bass-line seeming to recall dark Russian forests. Wonderful  moments fill the Allegro con spirito with organ like harmonies in the violas, spirited pizzicati and inventive bass-lines. The Allegro ends with a whirlwind passage, which suddenly braces itself for the final glorious Molto meno mosso.  

copyright Lygia O'Riordan copyright Lygia 'Riordan