“Winter Daydreams”: Tchaikovsky’s 1st

(Deutsche Grammophon, 1979)

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13, was completed in 1874; it took him 8 years to complete after he started writing it in 1866, when he was only 26 years old. Though not necessarily the most famous among all of his symphonies, the color of the winter scenery and the rich melody full of Russian folk tunes in this work still make it rather popular.

1. Daydreams on a Winter Journey: Allegro tranquillo

The main theme opens on flute and bassoon, with a sense of vast open space in the cold winter:

Shortly after that the main theme emerges from cello, and quickly rises into a rushing and stormy scene, depicting the journey through winter land, day and night:

The opening tune comes back, rhythm slowed half, played on a bright, singing clarinet, presenting the contrasting 2nd theme:

2. Land of Gloom, Land of Mists: Adagio cantabile ma non tanto

The slow introduction with a gloomy mood is played by strings:

The first theme originated from his Overture The Storm of 1864, a folk song played by the oboe:

The 2nd theme doesn’t seem to differ much in style from the 1st, more singing, story-telling, played by cello:

3. Scherzo: Allegro scherzando giocoso

First theme:

Second theme, folk-like spirit comes back again, with a beautiful melody (one of my favorites) flowing freely on the strings:

4. Finale: Andante lugubre – Allegro maestoso

This movement is based a Russian folk song. Introduction and the first theme are played on lower strings:

The 2nd theme, vibrant and bright:

(NPS photo J. Dittmar, nps.gov)

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