Tchaikovsky: The Seasons

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This album contains The Seasons by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Presented by Piano Classics, a label of Brilliant Classics.

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As a cycle of salon pieces, The Seasons has never ceased to afford pleasure both to listeners and to amateur pianists since it was first published in 1885, though Tchaikovsky had compiled its contents over several years. It is here complemented by works dating from different periods of Tchaikovsky’s career, similarly undemanding in style: the very early Romance (1868) and two Morceaux (1871-2) and the much later Dumka (1886), composed for his Parisian publisher Félix Mackar as a ‘rhapsody’.

In 1875 Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write a series of piano pieces for the St. Petersburg musical magazine Nuvellist, each piece to be published in the monthly issue. Although Tchaikovsky frequently composed on commission (he sometimes described it casually as “tossing musical pancakes”) he took it seriously and he even warmed to the task during composing. His 12 compositions are called “The Seasons” and describe each individual month of the year, either by mood or by a particular occasion or activity. The music is relatively simple (no octaves thundering like in his 1rst piano concerto), affectionate, intimate and often hauntingly beautiful: a series of 12 musical gems! In addition to the cycle The Seasons Yuan Sheng recorded some smaller piano pieces by Tchaikovsky, including the ever popular Dumka.

Yuan Sheng has a deep understanding and command of harpsichord and early pianos that has resulted in many well-received historically informed performances and recordings. In reviewing his all-Beethoven recital on an 1805 Kathönig piano, the Boston Intelligencer remarked that ‘Sheng had absorbed this music so thoroughly that a listener might easily have imagined the composer at the keyboard.’

Composer: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Artist: Yuan Sheng (piano)

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Tracklist:

The Seasons, Op. 37a:
00:00:00 I. January. By the Hearth
00:05:34 II. February. Carnival
00:08:40 III. March. Song of the Lark
00:11:21 IV. April. Snowdrop
00:14:20 V. May. Starlit Night
00:18:57 VI. June. Barcarolle
00:24:20 VII. July. Song of the Reaper
00:26:15 VIII. August. Harvest Song
00:30:14 IX. September. Hunter’s Song
00:33:32 X. October. Autumn Song
00:38:29 XI. November. “Troika”
00:41:49 XII. December. Christmas

00:46:26 Nocturne No. 1, Op. 10
00:51:03 Humoresque No. 2, Op. 10
00:54:02 Romance in F Minor, Op. 5
01:00:20 Aveu Passioné in E Minor
01:03:45 Dumka in C Minor, Op. 59

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