Saturday, December 10, 2005
Tchaikovsky: Fifth Symphony, E minor, Op.64
The Symphony opens, like the Fourth, with a portentous, oracular Introduction, that appears to be thematically foreign to the purpose of the first Movement; but it is inserted twice, unexpectedly and with tremendous emphasis, in the second Movement (to which, also, it is wholly foreign in mood and character); appears again, greatly subdued, near the end of the third Movement; and then---at last asserting its true thematic quality and importance, it becomes (in considerably extended form, and changed from minor to major) not only the introductory section of the Finale, but an essential thematic factor of the entire last Movement. The first movement is cast in sonata-allegro form.
The second Movement, in the First-Rondo form, is a lyric conception of rich, glowing melodic quality and very great tonal beauty.
The third Movement is in one of the customary dance-forms, but it bears the somewhat surprising title Waltz, and one wonders how so plebian a style can hold its own in aristocratic symphonic company. But it does so, with quiet dignity and charm. Besides, the "Waltz" is no more foreign to the traditional Minuet, than is the very common "Scherzo," which no less a master than Beethoven introduced into this company.
The Finale is, in keeping with convention, a vigorous Allegro, more distinguished for forcefulness than for vivacity, and splendidly effective. The allusion to the chief Theme of the first Movement, at the end, in major, rounds out this imposing Symphony in a masterly manner.