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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Nationalist Era > Suite No. 3. Op. 55 (Tchaikovsky)


Suite No. 3. Op. 55

Pytor Il'yich Tchaikovsky
(1840-93)



The Suite No. 3 was written in 1884, the same year in which the composer’s "Manfred" Symphony was produced. It is in four movements, viz.: 1. "Elegie"; 2. "Valse Melancholique"; 3. "Scherzo"; 4. "Tema con Variazione". The Elegie and Valse are scored for full orchestra, and the Scherzo further employs triangle, drum, and tambourine. The Elegie and Valse are regular in form, but of a peculiarly emotional and impressive character, and are scored with the composer’s extraordinary mastery of orchestral technique. The Scherzo is in the usual scherzo form and does not call for special analysis. The "Theme and Variations" is the masterpiece of the suite. The theme is given out by the first violins with detached chord accompaniment. The variations are twelve in number. The first is opened by the strings in unison. The second is also for all the strings in unison, with a light, tripping accompaniment by the other instruments. In the third the melody is given to the first flute in the first and third sections. In the second section the second clarinet has the melody, accompanied by the other reeds. The fourth introduces a change of theme for full orchestra. The second section of the theme is also for full orchestra. The fifth treats of the theme contrapuntally. The sixth gives the theme in the form of quaver triplets. The seventh presents it in a stately chorale. In the eighth it is taken by English horn with string accompaniment. In the ninth it appears for the violins, accompanied by clarinet and four horns. In the tenth it is almost wholly assigned to a violin solo in Capriccio form. In the eleventh it is sustained by the double basses and bassoon with passages for other instruments. In the twelfth it appears as a showy Polacca, most elaborately embellished, which brings the suite to a close.





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