Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky

Souvenir d'un lieu cher, for violin & piano (or orchestra), Op. 42

    Description by Blair Johnston

    This charming violin work owes its generation to the unique relationship between Tchaikovsky and his wealthy patroness, Nadezha von Meck. Effectively freeing the composer from any financial burden in life, this patronage carried with it the unusual "rider" that the two parties were never to meet. This stipulation did not, however, prevent Tchaikovsky from enjoying the amenities of Mme. von Meck's lovely Ukrainian estate when the mistress herself was away; during just such a stay in the spring of 1878 Tchaikovsky found the quiet grounds and comfortable home so much to his liking that he immediately set about commemorating the vacation by putting together the Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op. 42 for violin and piano. The dedication of this three-movement musical truffle, the musical cousin of the Violin Concerto the composer had completed just one month earlier, is in fact made not to Mme. von Meck, but instead to the estate itself: Braïlov.

    The first piece of the Souvenir, "Méditation," was actually penned while the composer was writing his Violin Concerto and originally served as that work's central movement. Tchaikovsky eventually chose to replace the "Méditation" with the now-famous "Canzonetta," but, ever loathe to waste material, he immediate recycled it as the opening number of Op. 42. It is cast in a large ABA form; the reprise of the repetitive and rather melancholy D minor opening, with its dark violin melody in the lowest register, incorporates some of the glistening triplet arabesques that fill the dolce middle portion. A little coda makes a very delicate move to D major, disappearing into the violin's high E string. In retrospect, it may have been the impassioned climaxes of the two outer sections, whose robust virtuoso outbursts and thick accompaniment are too similar to the Concerto's first movement, that led Tchaikovsky to remove the "Méditation" from the Violin Concerto.

    A Scherzo in C minor follows, again outlining a compound ternary form. In the opening and closing sections -- Presto giocoso -- Tchaikovsky returns again and again to the quiet but tension-filled rising idea in running eighth notes that begins the piece; although there are some digressions, it is only when we arrive at the middle section (Con molto espressione e un poco agitato) that a real shift of gears takes place. Here, all is song, with a wave-like accompaniment in the piano right hand and an impassioned tune in the violin that pauses for breath only as the transition back to the reprise of the opening music starts to unfold.

    Perhaps the strongest piece of the three, and certainly the only one to have achieved any real fame of its own, is the "Mélodie" in E flat major that concludes the group. It has a gorgeous violin melody that moves along in arch-shaped eighth note groupings, sometimes lovingly imitated by the piano, to which a very brief central portion in grazioso scherzando sixteenths provides some contrast. The little codetta at the end is as tender as music can be.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Méditation in D minor
    2. Scherzo in D minor
    3. Mélodie in E flat major

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2018
    Nimbus Alliance
    NI 6368
    2017
    Masterworks / Sony Classical
    88985395202
    2017
    Naxos
    8503293
    2016
    Melodiya
    MELCD 1002442
    2016
    Pentatone / PentaTone Classics
    PTC 5186610
    2016
    Cedille Records
    CDR 166
    2016
    Hungaroton
    HCD 32760
    2015
    Indesens
    INDE 065
    2015
    Nimbus Alliance
    NI 6316
    2015
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4794646
    2015
    Warner Classics
    0825646129676
    2014
    Sony Classical
    88883787642
    2013
    Entertainment Group
    11402
    2013
    Entertainment Group
    14138
    2013
    Entertainment Group
    14139
    2013
    Brilliant Classics
    94656
    2012
    Entertainment Group
    4032
    2012
    The Entertainment Group
    1100
    2011
    Decca Crossover
    2011
    Art Act
    AR 001
    2011
    Decca
    4801710
    2011
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099902647722
    2011
    Decca / Philips
    4544802
    2011
    Decca
    2011
    Delos
    DE 3413
    2011
    RPO / Sheridan
    28320
    2011
    Onyx / Onyx Classics
    ONYX 4076
    2011
    Apex / WEA Apex Classics
    67865
    2011
    Berlin Classics
    0300060 BC
    2011
    Various Artists
    Brilliant Classics
    94096
    2009
    Denon Records
    2009
    Denon Records
    2009
    Decca
    2009
    X5 Music Group
    15618
    2008
    Decca / Universal Distribution
    UCCP 9629
    2008
    Sony Classical Essential Classics
    88697 21423-2
    2008
    BIS
    1432
    2008
    Arte Nova Classics
    391100
    2008
    Decca
    4780651
    2007
    Verdi Music
    32278
    2007
    Naxos
    8557690
    2006
    Columna Musica
    124
    2006
    Classical Records
    77
    2006
    PentaTone Classics
    5186095
    2005
    Berlin Classics
    0013602
    2005
    Brilliant
    92539
    2005
    Various Artists
    Brilliant
    92025
    2001
    CBC Records
    5209
    2001
    Cambria
    1453
    2001
    EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics
    7243557164
    2000
    Sonora
    22588
    1999
    Rus
    788054
    1998
    Deutsche Grammophon
    1998
    Deutsche Grammophon
    457 064-2GH
    1997
    Helicon Records
    1015
    1997
    Campion Records
    2005
    1997
    Arte Nova
    74321 39110-2
    1996
    Berlin Classics
    0011692
    1995
    Carlton
    00312
    1995
    Ondine
    733
    1995
    Orfeo
    307921
    1994
    Naxos
    550124
    1994
    Dom Records / Talent
    291030
    1992
    Chandos
    8500
    Dino Classics
    1362
    Musique d'Or
    1051
    Brilliant Classics
    8402/8
    Pickwick
    1137
    Biddulph Recordings
    LAB037
    IMG
    1617
    One-Eleven
    20001
    Vox
    3026
    Partridge
    1126
    Erato
    MCA
    42211