Win us with honest trifles

The Friday OT: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique” (Op.74)

For the basics, here’s a copypaste from the YouTube: “Valery Gergiev and the Verbier Festival Orchestra perform Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique” in B minor, op. 74 at the Verbier Festival 2015“. The link to the YouTube page is here:

With that out the way, some lines on this jolly tune as there’s simply no other symphony like it, Tchaikovsky’s sixth stands apart from all others. For many people it’s also the best ever, I’m not smart enough to know and will leave that call up to you, but the genius of the man was never more obvious. The first movement’s melodic, romantic theme is suddenly and violently broken, then patched back together. The second movement is an “allegro con grazia” and there’s nothing I can add to that, it’s simply fun with a famous melody (first-time listeners go “Ahh! THAT’S where it’s from!“). Then the rousing and dramatic third, also an allegro but this time dialling up the pomp and circumstance, climaxing with a rousing finish that any composer would normally consider a masterwork and a fitting end to a great symphony.

But not Tchaikovsky, no way! That manic depressive wanted you to feel the whole gamut of human emotions in less than an hour, so he adds the fourth movement that’s been known to break the hearts of marine corps generals. There’s no escape from the adagio lamentoso so don’t wait for relief, none arrives. Addictive? Yes. Evocative, unforgettable, unmistakable, obligatory music? All those things for sure, but fun? No. Get to find out how sitting down and listening to a piece of music can leave you physically exhausted by hitting that button.


    Adrian, check out Gergiev at the end.


    I thought I had left a comment. Gergiev clearly understands what this most emotional piece of music is saying. I have seen him many times–from Mozart to Wagner–and he gives every piece his all. But this is beyond anything I have seen.


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