Thursday, September 10, 2009

More Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky wrote a really fantastic Serenade for Strings that doesn't get a whole lot of love but is really cool. Tchaikovsky wrote it at about the same time he wrote the 1812 Overture, and he was very much more enamored of his serenade than he was of the overture, claiming in a letter to Nadezhda von Meck that "The overture will be very showy and noisy, but will have no artistic merit because I wrote it without warmth and without love. But the Serenade, on the contrary, I wrote from inner compulsion. This is a piece from the heart." It was composed as an homage to Mozart, who Tchaikovsky claims as one of his major inspirations (although Mozart's music is nowhere near as inherently grand - a Mozart serenade is often played by a very small string orchestra, whereas Tchaikovsky's work requires a very large one). I also have a special affinity for the work because when I was actually decent at music, I got into an honors orchestra that played the finale of this work.
The opening movement is what I'll be posting today. I really adore it, and my recording recommendation is Leonard Slatkin directing the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. The album comes with other works that I think are really cool (Fantasia on Greensleeves in particular, but I like the string orchestra version of Borodin's 2nd string quartet too) as well as one I could do without (Pachelbel's Canon) but this is the version of the serenade that I grew up on. I am unsure which recording the video I found is, but it is pretty high quality, so take a listen.