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The symphony requires maturity in a composer. He
expresses his own vision of life, his attitude to its major manifestations.
Usually a symphony is a summary of a composer's experience
earned over a substantial period of time.
If symphonies sometimes are
composed by seven-year-old children we can call them
'symphonies' only conditionally. In the best
case, they can only be a good imitation of a well-known pattern.
The Fifth Symphony by Tchaikovsky is the
work of a mature master. His model for a symphony is quite different from
the original pattern of the founder
of this genre - Franz Joseph Haydn. At the same time there are basic, core
ideas, which stay unchanged regardless of any
The symphony is the most
complex, profound, versatile and philosophical genre. It commonly is
represented by a symphonic cycle and consists of four movements. The focus
of each movement is on a different side of the world-picture. Differences
in the focus enable movements to gravitate to each other forming unity,
unlike similarity which always separates things. When the duration of
symphonies increased, the necessity to keep the unity of the symphonic cycle
again became real.
The first who established the idea of
"leitmotif" was Beethoven. "Leitmotif" is a recurring
theme symbolizing a character, object, or abstract
idea. Romantic composers and Tchaikovsky, in particular, used
"leitmotifs" which thread through the
entire texture of a symphony, all its movements. "Leitmotifs"
appear in different
tempi, orchestration, and register; they are displayed in different clothes and
circumstances. This is a way to explore the
potential of characters and develop them. "Leitmotifs"
bring a great deal of completion
and unity to the symphonic cycle.
The form of sonata
allegro, commonly used in the first movement, is perfect to reflect a collision
of opposite characters. There are no symphonies
without sonata allegro or its equivalent. Without other movements the
sonata allegro represents the genre of a symphonic poem, largely exploited by
many romantic composers starting with Liszt.
The content of sonata allegro can be the struggle of an individual with his fate
like in the case of Fifth Symphony by Tchaikovsky. It also can only be a
play of 'light and shade' expressed through the opposition of Major and Minor or
a principal tonality and its dominant. The last is much easier to fulfill.
That is why Haydn wrote 104 symphonies and
Tchaikovsky only 6. However the idea of symphony as a genre belongs to
The second movement of Haydn's symphonic model has
usually no inner conflicts and bears lyrical, philosophical character.
Andante Cantabile in the Fifth Symphony by Tchaikovsky is associated with an
immersion in his inward world of dreams and
reflections. The horn solo perfectly expresses the character. It is
another side of the world-picture, different from
the first movement.
The third part is usually the shortest
in the symphonic cycle. This is the intermezzo, music between the first
two movements and the Finale, which at first look
takes us away from the mainstream of the symphony. As a matter of fact it
brings fresh impressions of outward life and
contributes to the entire world-picture reflected in the symphony. A dance
- Minuet in Haydn's symphonies and Waltz in Tchaikovsky's Fifth - seems the most
appropriate realization of this idea.
Finale. It is a time to put everything in
balance, finish the 'topic' lines and bring them to denouement. The Finale
bears the function of exodus and therefore it is the right place to develop
musical material from previous movements. If in Haydn's symphonies the
content of the Finale usually is a joke - Scherzo - it every time reminds me of
a phrase: "What is our life? - A game!" -
brings the initial conflict, exposed in the first
movement, to the outcome. A Major
of fate. Sometimes
it sounds similar to
Wagner or late
his Poem of Ecstasy.
Sometimes it reminds
us of ancient tragedies with
the abstract idea of Fate as a major character.
The Tempest, Tchaikovsky's early, op. 18,
programme work, was created in 1873 after Shakespeare's drama and was dedicated
to Stasov, a Russian musicologist, who gave the idea for the Tempest to
Tchaikovsky. The genre was indicated as "symphonic
In fact it is a symphonic poem, a genre established by Liszt. The piece
begins with a picture of the calm sea. But Ariel, by order of Prospero,
raises the tempest, trying to sink the ship. The stormy element is
skillfully reflected in the music. You may hear the wind. The
wonderful, lyric theme of love between Miranda and Fernando is followed by a
scherzo episode which opposes images of the bright spirit Ariel and the dark
monster Caliban. The theme of love appears again in the conclusion.
The feature which differentiates Tchaikovsky's music
from music of all Russian fellow-composers of the 19th century is, that
everything he composed is extremely personal. He had a pure, romantic
approach to everything - nature, his life and music.
Svetlanov (1928-2002) was born in Moscow. He studied piano with Maria
Gurvich, composition with Mikhail Gnessin and Yuri Shaporin and conducting with
After graduating from the Gnessin Institute and Moscow Conservatory he joined
the staff of the Bolshoi as a principal conductor (1963-1965). In 1965 he
became a leader of the USSR Symphony Orchestra and was in this position till
In 1979 Svetlanov received appointment as principal
guest conductor at the London
Symphony Orchestra and the last concert in his life was given in London in 2002.
Svetlanov received numerous honors and awards: 1968 -
People's Artist of the USSR;
1978 - the Order of Lenin; 1983 - Soviet State Prize for Creative Achievements;
Order for Meritorious Services to the Nation. He also was awarded the
Paris Grand Prix
for his recording of the complete symphonies by Tchaikovsky.
Svetlanov's work at the position of principal conductor
of the USSR Symphony Orchestra
from 1965 till 2000 resulted in the performance and recording of almost the
(1840 - 1893)
Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64
1. Andante. Allegro con anima - 14:58
2. Andante cantabile con alcuna licenza - 14:11
Valse. Allegro moderato - 5:45
Finale. Andante maestoso. Allegro vivace - 12:28
5. The Tempest
Symphonic Fantasy to
William Shakespeare's Drama, Op. 18 - 23:06
time - 70:42
USSR Symphony Orchestra
Evgeni Svetlanov, conductor
cover painting "Poseidon's Sea
Journey" by Ivan Aivazovsky
Design by Evgeni Kostitsyn