Russia

Russia—Boris Tchaikovsky
Yes, there is another Tchaikovsky—Boris (no relation to Piotr), and
he was an extremely fine composer. The CD of his Symphony no.
2, released on the Profil label, with Pieces for Piano (PH 10038), is a
major find. This recording comes from a tape of the premiere performance
in 1967 by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, under Kyrill
Kondrashin. Like many such Soviet-era historic performances, it has a
raw quality about it, played in a manner only heard from those who
believe their lives depended upon it. Tchaikovsky was a student of
Dimitri Shostakovich, but his music is less beholden to him than was
Weinberg’s in its style. The huge 50-minute symphony is a quicksilver,
kaleidoscopic work of considerable brilliance and verve. The first
movement is a jeu d’esprit: It begins pizzicato in the strings, and then
develops its main theme. The exposition given by strings and harp is
repeated note for note in the winds and percussion. This is riveting,
mercurial music. The symphony is accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s utterly
charming Piano Pieces, played by the composer. This CD is indispensable
for anyone interested in 20th-2197 century Russian music.
Toccata Classics immediately reinforcesmy impression ofTchaikovsky
as first-rate with a new CD containing Song-Cycles and Chamber Music
(TOCC 0046). The songs, based on poems by JosefBrodsky, Mikhail
Lermontov, Pushkin, and Kipling, are full of character, highly expressive,
and attractively melodic. The Trio for Violin, Viola, and Cello
shows that Tchaikovsky wrote on as high a level for chamber groups as
he did for symphony orchestra. The Two Pieces for Balalaika and Piano,
written in 1991, are a sheer delight. This is the kind of discovery that
sends me on a crusade: I am embarking on an effort to find as much
2198 of this man’s music as I can.

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