Dimitri Shostakovich – (Festive Overture, Op. 96 and Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47 ) and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky – (Piano concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op.23)
Festive Overture, Op. 96
Dmitri Shostakovich wrote this Overture in 1954 to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in Moscow CITATION Hul10 p 377 l 2057 (Hulme 377). The conductor, Vasily Nebolsin found himself with no work ready to open the planned concert. He approached Shostakovich and asked him to fill the breach. Shostakovich agreed and asked his friend Lev Lebedinsky to keep him company while composed the overture. He finished composing the work in three days. It has also been argued that the jubilant nature of the piece may point to relief at Joseph Stalin’s death one year earlier. The piece is brilliant and full of fanfare.
The instruments for the overture include two flutes, piccolo, three oboes, three clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion and strings. The performance time of the overture is about six minutes. The brass introduces the piece with a stentorian proclamation and joined by the winds playing a fast melody. The melody is picked up by the strings reaching a climax with a repeated four-note pattern. The winds and cello play a more lyrical melody maintaining the tempo. The themes in the piece are used in counterpoint, and the piece ends with a rousing coda.
Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
Shostakovich completed this work for the orchestra in July 1937. It was his 5th Symphony and was well received with a standing ovation on its premiere CITATION Fay05 p 100 l 2057 (Fay 100). It is speculated that he composed this work to appease the Soviet authorities because they felt that his previous works had anti-communist spirit. The instruments for this work include two clarinets, two piccolos, two bassoons and contrabassoon, two flutes, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, timpani, triangle, snare drum, cymbals, tam-tam, xylophone, glockenspiel, bass drum, two harps, celesta, strings and piano solo. The symphony is about 43 minutes long and has four movements namely; Moderato-Allegro non troppo, Allegreto, Largo, and Allegro non-troppo.
The first movement begins with string in a canonical figure leaping then falling to minor thirds. The mood at the start is uneasy but becomes frenzied when the main theme, which is long and lyrical, comes in. The movement ends quietly with a coda. The second movement opens in a satirical scherzo pattern and borrows from the theme of the first movement. The third movement is slow, and no brass is used in this section. The mood is emotional and mournful. The final movement begins in a tempo similar to the first movement. It then enters a quieter section before a military-like play by the snare drum and timpani end the piece in D-major CITATION Tch11 l 2057 (P. Tchaikovsky).
Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op.23
This work was composed by Pyotr IIyich Tchaikovsky and is among his most popular compositions and an excellent piano concerto. The instruments for this work include two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, strings and solo piano CITATION Tch13 p 2 l 2057 (Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff 2). The piece is organized in three movements: Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso – Allegro con spirito (B flat minor →B flat major); Andantino Semplice – Prestissimo D- flat minor), and Allegro con fuoco (B flat minor→B flat major). The standard performance of the work lasts about 36 minutes.
The first movement opens with a 4-measure prelude in the horns that change the key from B flat minor to D-flat major for the opening melody played by cellos and violins. The solo piano then joins with emphatic chords CITATION Cla15 l 2057 (Classic Fm). This lyrical theme does not appear again in the first movement. Tchaikovsky used a Ukranian folk song as the main theme for this work. The exposition section begins in a consoling theme with the orchestra in A-flat major which is repeated after a climax in C minor. A romantic theme introduces and plays through the development section. The recapitulation has features of the primary theme in the tonic key. An exciting section is played reaching a climax in B-flat major before being interrupted by a piano cadenza. The first movement ends with a drum roll.
The second movement, in D-flat major, Andantino Semplice tempo, is in A-B-A form (ternary). The flute opens this movement with a brief pizzicato followed by a wide range of modulations. The piano joins and continues in F-major; the cello and oboe continue in D-flat major. The end of section A is marked with piano in F major chord. Section B is in D minor in prestissimo. The piano introduces the section then accompanies the strings as they introduce a new melody. The piano solo ends section B, and A is re-introduced.
The third movement in Allegro con Fuoco is in A-B-A-B-A-B pattern. A, in B-flat minor, was borrowed from a Ukranian folk song and is played by the piano. The B part appears in D-flat major, E-flat major and B-flat major. The last B section is lyrical, and the piano and orchestra plays it fortissimo. The movement ends in B-flat major in Allegro Vivo tempo.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Classic Fm. Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor. 2015. 1 December 2015 <http://www.classicfm.com/composers/tchaikovsky/music/piano-concerto-no1-b-flat/#LGxSZmcWyTdKiM1B.97>.
Fay, Laurel E. Shostakovich: A Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Hulme, Derek C. Dmitri Shostakovich Catalogue: The First Hundred Years and Beyond. New York: Scarecrow Press, 2010.
Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyitch and Serge Rachmaninoff. Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 & Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2: With Orchestral Reduction for Second Piano. N.Y.: Courier Corporation, 2013.
Tchaikovsky, Peter. “Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5.” 11 June 2011. Youtube. 1 December 2015 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTqsU7tQW48>.