Tchaikovsky Work Sets a Romantic Seasonal Mood For Music LoversSome of the musical styles in vogue during the romantic period provided a contrast to the somber, serious, lengthy works so favored by classicism. Music became lighter and more fun － pieces lasting just three or four minutes came into fashion, and even orchestral pieces that required hundreds of musicians sometimes lasted just an hour.
Piano solos of the time were marked by distinctive characteristics. They were frequently short works that tried to express in music colorful scenes or a literary tale, such as an image of night, a pastoral picture or a childhood memory. Robert Schumann's "Kinderscenen" (Scenes of Childhood) and Felix Mendelssohn's "Lieder ohne Worte" (Songs Without Words) are good examples of works that embody these characteristics.
Peter llyich Tchaikovsky, a great composer famous for his grand orchestral works, also wrote some pieces that adhere to certain romantic characteristics, including the practice of giving certain sections of a work its own subtitle. His "Children's Album," a set of 24 easy pieces, and "The Seasons," a set of 12 pieces, both written for the piano, are more like subtle pencil sketches rather than rich oil paintings. "The Seasons" was written in 1875 for "Nouvellist," a monthly music magazine published in St. Petersburg that gave away musical scores as supplements. "The Seasons" is a group of short characteristic pieces, each dedicated to a month: "January: At the Fireside," "February: Carnival," "March: Song of the Skylark," "April: Snowdrop," "May: May Nights," "June: Barcarolle," "July: The Song of the Reaper," "August: Harvesting," "September: The Hunt," "October: Autumn Song," "November: Sleigh Ride," "December: Christmas." The best of these charming, sweet melodies are the ones dedicated to June and November.
In 1994, Mikhail Pletnev, a pianist, produced a CD of Tchaikovsky's "The Seasons," with Virgin Classics. Pletnev is an expert on Tchaikovsky's music who once even arranged the composer's "Sleeping Beauty" ballet suite for the piano. On the CD, Pletnev presents a colorful, almost orchestral sound with musical depth. If you're longing for a change of seasons but are tired of Vivaldi, this could be the CD for you.
by Lee Jang-jik