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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Nationalist Era > Suite No. 1. Op. 43 (Tchaikovsky)


Suite No. 1. Op. 43

Pytor Il'yich Tchaikovsky
(1840-93)



The first of Tchaikovsly’s suites was written in 1880, and as originally constructed consisted of five movements: 1. Introduction and fugue; 2 Divertimento; 3. Intermezzo; 4. Scherzo; 5. Gavotte. After its publication the composer added another movement, "Marche Miniature," inserted between the Interemezzo and Scherzo. As generally performed in the concert room, the scherzo and Gavotte, which are in the usual form of those movements, are omitted. The Introduction and fugue, score for full orchestra without trombones, opens with a long, animated, and melodious theme, given out by bassoons, accompanied in the muted strings, and then passes to all the violins with wind instrument accompaniment. After the development of this material a fugue follows, opened in first oboe, first clarinet, and second violin, with responses in second oboe, second clarinet, and violas. The fugue is simply constructed, and its episodes bring the movement to a close.

The second movement, Divertimento, opens with a quaint theme in clarinet, followed by a passage in full orchestra and kindred passages in the woodwinds, with pizzicato string accompaniment. The second section opens with an extended melody for oboe, accompanied by strings, passing to the horns. The development of this material, with a return to the first theme, closes the Divertimento.

The Intermezzo is the favorite number of the suite by reason of its melodious character. The first subject is announced in first violins, violas, bassoon, and flute, with accompaniment of strings and horns. After repetition, the second theme appears in a kind of duet for cellos and bassoon with pizzicato accompaniment. It next appears in the violins, violas, and cellos with contrapuntal accompaniment in the woodwinds. The leading theme and duet are repeated and gradually lead back to the first theme, which is worked up to an intense climax. A Coda, based upon fragments of the first theme, closes the movement.

The "Marche Miniature" is a fantastic number, both in its scoring and the instruments employed, which are the piccolo, flutes, oboes, clarinets, violins, triangle, and bells. In the opening, the theme is given out by the piccolo, with pizzicato string accompaniment. It then passes to the flute. An episode appears in the strings and bells. The development of the main theme and the quaintness of the accompaniment impart a strange fascination to the music, which closes with a repetition of the principal subject.





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