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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Peter Il'yich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
The Seasons Op. 37b (1875/76) arranged by Peter Breiner for Violin and Orchestra
From Twelve Pieces Op. 40 (1878): Chanson Triste No. 2; Mazurka No. 4; Chant sans paroles No. 6; Danse Russe No. 10; Reverie interrompue No. 12
Takako Nishizaki (violin)
Queensland Symphony Orchestra/Peter Breiner
Recorded: Ferry Road Studio, Brisbane, Australia, 31st January - 3rd February 1997
NAXOS 8.553510 [65.25]



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To me this is one transcription too far. Do not get me wrong, it is well played and seems to have been competently scored and arranged for fiddle and orchestra. But that is not the point. Surely there is enough concerted music for strings around without having recourse to some good but not great piano pieces that were written for gifted amateurs. The Russian himself wrote a fine Violin Concerto. The Seasons were written in 1875/6 as a result of a commission from the editor of the musical periodical Nouvelliste. This monthly publication contained a piano piece 'got up' by Tchaikovsky. They are quite simply character pieces - for example, musical evocations of firesides in January, April snowdrops and the October hunt.

As original piano works these pieces are interesting but barely challenge the pianist. In its transcribed form, the innocent charm of the piano works is certainly present. There is quite a chamber feel to much of this arrangement. Yet it fails to convince. In my opinion these are not numbers to be listened to as a series. Most pianists would probably have chosen to excerpt from the collection. I find listening to all twelve pieces somewhat boring.

There has been a long musical history of arrangements of certain numbers of the Twelve Pieces. So this contribution is hardly surprising or revolutionary. We have here some old chestnuts - the Chanson Triste and the Song without Words. These have been the delight or the bane of generations of pianists. Let me reiterate - they are good works - but not great music. They were ephemeral pieces written for the amateur market. They do not need or perhaps even deserve the expenditure of effort to arrange, learn and perform in this guise. Personally I will always plonk my way through the piano score of these pieces, but would not wish to invest an hour of my time listening to them in this somewhat contrived arrangement.

John France



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