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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 bes
t 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 patte
rn of the founder of this genre - Franz Joseph Haydn.  At the same time there are basic, core ideas, which stay unchanged regardless of any modifications.
     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 sona
ta 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 Haydn.
     The second movement of Haydn's symphonic model ha
s 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 sho
rtest 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!" - Tchaikovsky's Finale brings the initial conflict, exposed in the first movement, to the outcome.  A Major strong-willed march gradually dominates and overcomes the  "leitmotif" of fate.  Sometimes it sounds similar to Wagner or late Scriabin predicting 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 fantasy".
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.

     Evgeni  Svetlanov (1928-2002) was born in Moscow.  He studied piano with Maria
Gurvich, composition with Mikhail Gnessin and Yuri Shaporin and conducting with Gauk.
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 2000.
     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; 1998 -
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 entire Russian
symphonic repertoire.

©2003 Evgeni Kostitsyn

Pyotr Tchaikovsky
(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
   3. Valse. Allegro moderato - 5:45
   4. Finale. Andante maestoso. Allegro vivace - 12:28

   5. The Tempest
       Symphonic Fantasy to William Shakespeare's Drama, Op. 18 - 23:06

Total time - 70:42

The USSR Symphony Orchestra
Evgeni Svetlanov, conductor

cover painting "Poseidon's Sea Journey" by Ivan Aivazovsky

Design by Evgeni Kostitsyn