Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky

Suite No. 3 for orchestra in G major, Op. 55

    Description by Joseph Stevenson

    Tchaikovsky wrote most four of his suites for orchestra in the period of time between his fourth and fifth symphonies. All but the last of them were, at some point in their creation, intended to be symphonies. What usually happened was that Tchaikovsky found he had assembled movements of dance-like character and lightness of mood, lacking formal sonata-allegro forms and hence without symphonic development. As a kind of substitute for development, Tchaikovsky often concluded his suites with a large-scale set of theme and variations.

    This suite was premiered in 1885. It was reported that the audience was "electrified." Even so, it became customary to play the final movement by itself, particularly when it became the music for a ballet.

    The first movement, "Elegie," used three themes, all of them flowing and lyrical, are in a rondo form. The second, "Valse mélancolique," actually goes beyond melancholy. It is, in fact, rather bitter and grieving in tone. The third movement, "Scherzo," is a tarantella with a rare and threatening martial air. The theme of the final variations is introduced on strings only, followed by 11 variations, most of which use a different selection of instruments. It ends with a grande polonaise in an intense and majestic mood.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Elegie. Andantino molto cantabile
    2. Valse melancolique. Allegro moderato
    3. Scherzo. Presto
    4. Tema con variazioni

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Urania / Urania Records WS 121312
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4794646
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94372
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94031
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Decca 4781708
    2009 Phoenix Edition 412
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Decca 4800557
    2008 EMI Classics
    2008 Melodiya 1000104
    2006 PentaTone Classics 5186061
    2006 Melodiya 1000955
    2006 Sony Music Distribution 888072
    2001 Capriccio Records 51012
    1998 Chandos CHAN9676
    1998 DTS Entertainment / EMI Classics 1031
    1997 Testament 1104
    1996 EMI Music Distribution 68739
    1996 Philips 454253
    1996 Chandos 9419
    1994 Supraphon 110969
    1994 Melodiya 610
    1994 Naxos 550728
    1993 Erato 45970
    Emergo 3962
    Capriccio Records 10200
    BBC Music Magazine 258
    Digital Sound 2031
    ICONE 9425
    Philips 464747