Music News & Reviews

CD review: ‘Tchaikovsky: The Seasons’

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Intimate performance

hits all the right notes

Tchaikovsky’s most popular works are his richly orchestrated, intensely emotional symphonies, concertos and ballets. Those who know only these large-scale compositions might not readily recognize Tchaikovsky’s hand in the solo piano pieces on this Hyperion Records release. But with some adjustment to the direct simplicity of one set and the quiet lyricism of the other, the listener can derive much pleasure from these intimate vignettes.

“The Seasons,” depicting all the months of the year, were published serially in a magazine throughout 1876. Tchaikovsky had been commissioned to write short, relatively easy pieces for amateur pianists to play at home. As such, they are not showy or dramatic, but rely on small observations, from the coziness of a fireplace in January to the rhythmic laboring of reapers in July.

Siberian-born Pavel Kolesnikov, 25, displays an innate understanding of these miniatures, never applying extra weight or attempting conspicuous gestures, but playing them with great warmth and finely judged dynamics. For April, he charmingly conjures the reflections of snowdrops in the spring sun through crystalline runs and December’s gentle Christmas waltz is infused with an infectious lilt.

Kolesnikov has more opportunity to demonstrate his skills in the “Six Morceaux” from 1873. From the sweet, melancholic sighing in “Réverie Du Soir” and the Chopin-esque delicacy of “Nocturne” to the cheeky scampering in “Scherzo Humoristique” and the glittering gallop in “Capriccioso,” he spins each piece with engaging sensitivity and spirit.

Correspondent Roy C. Dicks

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