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Current time:0:00Total duration:8:37

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

Video transcript

- The last movement starts out very joyfully. You say to yourself, "ah, finally, Tchaikovsky's enjoying life and happy, a very positive ending. We talked about the ominous first movements of the Beethoven fifth becoming triumphant. Well here we have an ominous first movement of the Tchaikovsky fourth being triumphant," but no. In his letters, he says it's not joyful, but is looking to the other people's joy. So you can say, "oh isn't it wonderful they're joyful and isn't it nice to see their joy?" ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) That leads us directly into the second part, which is the folk song played by the woodwinds initially. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) After that, the first joyous theme comes in. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) And then it goes to the next joyous section, which is the same feeling, I think, as the opening, but with more prominent role for the lower brass. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) Again, Tchaikovsky brings us back to the folk material, the horns play it, and then in a kind of ominous way, the trombones and tuba play this in the lowest register while the violins are playing these really kind of violent scales. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) After that, the folk theme comes in in the most lighthearted way of all. The woodwinds are playing piano and the strings just play these little short notes to complement the beautiful melody. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) That doesn't last long. Immediately we're back into the drama of this last movement and we have this wonderful conversation between the woodwinds and the strings. So the strings play a scale (vocal percussion) and then the woodwinds (vocal percussion) They're trading off scales, they're trading, trading, trading, trading, and ... (clapping) we're back to the beginning. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) Exactly the same material, I mean, to me, very joyous. The second part of it, the strings now have the honor of playing the folk song. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) And it grows and it grows. The brass play it. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) And it continues to get exciting, exciting, and then what do you think's gonna happen? The great moment of the end? No. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) The fate motif comes back and so the fate motif comes back in a remarkable way. Many people, when they conduct this, prepare that fate motif. In other words, they make it retard, they slow down, and I think that's a mistake. I think Tchaikovsky was building this frenzy, this excitement, and then abruptly he changes character and this ominous fate motif is looking over your shoulder. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) As in the first movement, the fate motif makes a decrescendo, but this time instead of the clarinet and bassoon extending it to go to the second theme, the strings do it with this kind of ... (light piano) Very poignant. (light piano) And then we have this carnival starts. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) The horns start. The strings and woodwinds come in. Horns again. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) And it goes back and forth and we have these cascading scales between the strings and the woodwinds. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) The carnival's at hand. We do the whole material from the beginning. It has the most glorious ending, as I mentioned earlier, with cymbal crashes galore and obviously a tremendous ending for this magnificent symphony. ("Symphony No.4" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky)