Most of us will be familiar with the piano solo
version of The Seasons, and there has been an orchestral version
(orchestrated by Gauk, conducted by Svetlanov, on Melodiya), but
as far as I am aware, Naxos has scored a first with these arrangements
for solo violin and orchestra.
At the time of composition, monthly magazines
had become all the rage, and Tchaikovsky was asked to write these
pieces for publication every month over a 12 month period. Notoriously
lackadaisical with respect to commissions, Tchaikovsky must have
found this commission from Nikolay Bernard of the periodical Nouvelliste
somewhat irksome. Tchaikovsky instructed his servant to remind
him each month that the next piece was due for completion, and
it is just as well, as this action probably ensured that the commission
Peter Breiner’s arrangement of these delightful
pieces is very good, and should give pleasure to all who buy this
disc. Generally the violin is given the principal theme in each
movement with the orchestra playing the left-hand notes plus a
few other harmonies. Breiner, born and trained in Czechoslovakia,
now lives in Toronto. He has produced other transcriptions, such
as Beatles tunes arranged in the Baroque style, and he both teaches
and conducts, and has hosted TV music-based programmes. He is
obviously therefore a well travelled musician, and these transcriptions
of The Seasons get their first recording here.
In addition to The Seasons, Peter Breiner has
also given us similar transcriptions of some other Tchaikovsky
piano pieces for the same forces. We have five of Tchaikovsky’s
12 Morceaux Op. 40. One wonders why more were not included on
this disc since there is plenty of time remaining on the disc
for additional pieces.
Perhaps the best known movement, No.6 June is
scored for violin with woodwind accompaniment supported generally
by strings, and the remainder of the orchestra, with a few fireworks
thrown in the middle. Fireworks is perhaps too extreme a description
given that all these pieces are miniatures, and Peter Breiner
has maintained this character in his arrangements.
The soloist, Takako Nishizaki plays with her
usual ability, but there is no earth-shattering material to tax
her undoubted skills here. Much the same goes for the orchestra,
which accompanies the soloist admirably, but again the material
is all very simple, and so they cope well without being stretched.
The Queensland Symphony Orchestra does not have the tonal splendour
of some of our international bands, but all is accurately in place
with no mishaps to spoil the proceedings.
This is a very pleasant disc, well worth seeking
out if you want some undemanding listening and you prefer an orchestral
garb to the well known Tchaikovsky salon pieces.
see also review
by John France