Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 – 1893)
The Seasons, Op. 37b (1876) orch. Peter Breiner
Chanson Triste Op. 40, No. 2 (1878)
Mazurka (1868) Op. 40, No. 4 (1878)
Chant sans paroles Op. 40, No. 6 (1878) (1876)
Danse russe Op. 40, No. 10 (1878)
Reverie interrompue Op. 40, No. 12 (1878)
All orch. Peter Breiner
Takako Nishizaki (violin)
Queensland Symphony Orchestra/Peter Breiner
recorded 31st January – 3rd February 1997 in Ferry Road Studio, Brisbane, Australia. DDD
NAXOS 8.553510 [65.25]


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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 was fulfilled.

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.

John Phillips

see also review by John France

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