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Current time:0:00Total duration:6:15

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.4, analysis by Gerard Schwarz (part 2)

Video transcript

- The second movement is an andantino in the style of a canzona. A canzona is an instrumental form of the Renaissance. In the Renaissance, there were two basic musical forms: the Matraville, or sung form, and a canzona, an instrumental form, so he calls it a canzona. Canzonas were never slow movements; they were always moving, never terribly fast, but at a nice pace, and that's what this is: not slow movement at all. The first movement has a waltz element, but it is kind of a slow movement. It is played by the oboe and it's a melancholy tune. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) Interestingly, it just never stops, so once he starts with these eighth notes, it just continues. The melody is so beautiful and the only accompaniment to that are these little pizzicatos. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) After that, the cello section repeats that same melody. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) Flutes come in with the counter melody. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) And then, the second themed group begins and the strings. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) And again, what Tchaikovsky so often does, he takes material like that and he'll do it in a different key. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) (light piano) I mean, it can keep going, you can go forever, and he builds and it builds, then he brings back the original theme played by the bassoon and the viola section. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) And this is basically what he does until he gets to the third theme group. Some people consider it to be like a march. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) To me, it is more poignant. A march would give you the impression that it was somewhat superficial, but it's as poignant as ever, gorgeous. He repeats it, he varies it, he has a counter-theme to it, and eventually he brings back the original theme. This time, I choose to bring it back in a very quiet way, almost without expression, and highlights the little scales (vocal percussion) that the woodwinds have: the flute, the clarinet, the bassoon. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) Eventually they use the same second theme material, ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) and then a transition, woodwind strings, that brings us back to the end, which this time it has the wonderful melody being played by the bassoon. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) And a little coda with little chords throughout the orchestra comes it to an absolutely gorgeous, poignant end. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky)