Composed by

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (May 1840 – Nov 1893) in 1888

Duration

Approx. 40 mins

Instrumentation

3 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, strings

A popular symphony, the Fifth Symphony is filled with wonderful mottos, orchestral colour, balletic beauty, high drama, and a primary theme that represents “complete resignation before fate”. A notable highlight of the piece is its false climatic conclusion in the finale that creates an impression the performance has ended.

This piece is divided into 4 movements:

  1. Andante – Allegro con anima: 

The first movement opens with the clarinets introducing a slow, sombre motto-theme that leads to the main body of the movement. With a steady pace, the solo clarinet and the bassoon continue with a surging main theme and later, creates a wealth of thematic material. A lengthy movement, it consists of three separate-theme groups filled with soaring and sumptuous melodies unique to Tchaikovsky.

  1. Andante cantabile: 

The second movement opens with deep string chords and introduces one of the great solos for French horn and later, the oboe as the graceful second subject. The relaxing spirits are shattered twice when the music returns to the motto-theme, which blazes out dramatically in the trumpets.

  1. Valse: Allegro moderato: 

It is surprising to hear a lovely waltz instead of the expected scherzo in this movement. As this movement concludes with a beautiful extended coda based on the waltz tune, the motto-theme makes a fleeting appearance, triggering the impression of a figure seen through the mists.

  1. Finale: Andante maestoso – Allegro vivace – Moderato assai – Presto: 

The finale opens with the motto-theme that leaps to life in the main body when it breaks in more often as it proceeds, driving to a great climax before breaking off in silence. Out of the ensuing silence, the real coda is sounded, and later, the motto-theme leads in a constantly-accelerating tempo towards the (true) conclusion in E major.

PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY

Please refer to our previous article about him – click here.

RECOMMENDED RECORDING

OSLO PHILHARMONIC
Conductor: Vasily Petrenko

Performed on 2011 at the Oslo Concert Hall