Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Donald Macleod takes a series of snapshots of a period that lay at the centre of Tchaikovsky's creative life, from 1876 to 1890.

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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*20051214

Tchaikovsky's state of mind with regard to his work could veer between ecstatic optimism and despairing doubt.

These mood swings often, as Donald Macleod discovers, severely affected the composer's life and music.

It's painful, It's Sweet, Op 6, No 3

Ljuba Kazarnovskaya (soprano)

Ljuba Orfenova (piano)

Marche Slave, Op 31

Berlin Philharmonic

Herbert Von Karajan (conductor)

Suite No 3, Op 55 (excerpt)

Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi (conductor)

The Oprichnik, Act 2 (excerpt)

Prince Vjaz'minskij....Vladimir Ognovenko (baritone)

Andrej Morozov....Vsevolod Grivnov (tenor)

Basmanov....Alexandra Durseneva (alto)

Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Lirico de Cagliari

Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (conductor)

Allegro Brillante - Piano Concerto No 3, Op 75

Mikhail Pletnev (piano)

The Philharmonia

Vladimir Fedoseyev (conductor).

*20051215

Donald Macleod examines the composer's complicated relationship with his native Russia - a land he professed to adore, though he endeavoured to spend a great deal of time abroad.

Spirit My Heart Away

Olga Borodina (mezzo soprano)

Larissa Gergieva (piano)

Scherzo à la Russe, Op 1, No 1

Viktoria Postnikova (piano)

Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op 33

Mstislav Rostropovich (cello)

Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra

Gennady Rozhdestvensky (conductor)

Symphony No 2 in Cm, Op 17 (excerpt)

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Bernard Haitink (conductor)

Dumka, Op 58

Xiang-Dong Kong (piano).

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)20051219

1/5.

Tchaikovsky once said that his whole life had been a chain of misfortunes because of his sexuality.

Beginning a week-long exploration of the paradoxes and dichotomies behind the composer's life, Donald Macleod examines Tchaikovsky's attitude towards both sexes.

Amid the Din of the Ball, Op 38, No 3

Sergei Leiferkus (baritone)

Semion Skigin (piano)

Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Bernard Haitink (conductor)

Six French Songs, Op 65

Julia Varady (soprano)

Aribert Reimann (piano)

The Enchantress, Act 1 (Excerpt)

Marina Shaguch

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Neeme Järvi (conductor)

The Nutcracker, Scene 14 (Excerpts)

London Symphony Orchestra

Charles Mackerras (conductor).

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)20051222

4/5.

Donald Macleod examines the composer's complicated relationship with his native Russia - a land he professed to adore, though he endeavoured to spend a great deal of time abroad.

Spirit My Heart Away

Olga Borodina (mezzo soprano)

Larissa Gergieva (piano)

Scherzo à la Russe, Op 1, No 1

Viktoria Postnikova (piano)

Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op 33

Mstislav Rostropovich (cello)

Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra

Gennady Rozhdestvensky (conductor)

Symphony No 2 in Cm, Op 17 (excerpt)

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Bernard Haitink (conductor)

Dumka, Op 58

Xiang-Dong Kong (piano).

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)20051230

5/5.

Donald Macleod looks at the most fundamental dilemma Tchaikovsky faced - whether to live or to die.

Softly the Spirit Flew Up to Heaven, Op 47, No 2

Nina Rautio (soprano)

Semion Skigin (piano)

Symphony No 6 in Bm, Op 74, Pathetique

Leningrad PO

Evgeny Mravinsky (conductor)

None But the Lonely Heart, Op 6, No 6

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)

Oleg Boshniakovich (piano).

012010101120110502

Donald Macleod explores music from the aftermath of Tchaikovsky's disastrous marriage.

Donald Macleod investigates a little-known 'lost decade' in the middle of Tchaikovsky's life, a period the composer spent aimlessly wandering around Europe writing songs, chamber works and even religious choral music, as he struggled to come to terms with his sexuality - and his calling as a musician.

In 1878, Tchaikovsky was at the pinnacle of the early part of his career.

Over the previous few years, masterpiece after masterpiece had flowed from his pen - including the masterful violin concerto, Fourth Symphony and opera "Eugene Onegin".

Yet.just as he seemed poised to capitalise on this tremendous success, his world fell apart.

Following a sham marriage to a crazed fan - which he had hastily agreed to in the hope of hiding his own homosexuality - Tchaikovsky fled his home, escaped the life he had so carefully established, and wandered as a lost soul around Europe.

For the next decade he would compose nothing in the genres that had made him famous - no ballets, no symphonies (at least none in the conventional sense) - indeed, almost nothing that's regularly played in the concert hall today.

Instead, Tchaikovsky embarked on a little-performed series of songs, piano and chamber works - even dabbling with the genres of oratorio and mass.

He also made a series of bold experiments in form - writing a set of genre-defying orchestral suites, concertante works for soloist and orchestra, and his only programme symphony - 'Manfred' - a work that was to cause him more anguish than any other work.

Yet.on the other hand were written two of Tchaikovsky's most popular - yet much-derided - orchestral 'lollipops'- the Overture "1812" and Capriccio Italien.

In 1888, after a decade of wandering, Tchaikovsky was to return to Russia and embark on his late series of great works - "Sleeping Beauty", "The Nutcracker", and the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies.

This week though, Donald Macleod makes a rare excursion into the rich rarities of this lost decade.

We begin the week with the works that followed in the aftermath of the composer's disastrous marriage, including charming, childlike works for violin and piano solo, and one of Tchaikovsky's least known major works - his choral setting of the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.

01*20051212

Tchaikovsky once said that his whole life had been a chain of misfortunes because of his sexuality.

Beginning a week-long exploration of the paradoxes and dichotomies behind the composer's life, Donald Macleod examines Tchaikovsky's attitude towards both sexes.

Amid the Din of the Ball, Op 38, No 3

Sergei Leiferkus (baritone)

Semion Skigin (piano)

Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Bernard Haitink (conductor)

Six French Songs, Op 65

Julia Varady (soprano)

Aribert Reimann (piano)

The Enchantress Act 1 (Excerpt)

Marina Shaguch

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Neeme Järvi (conductor)

The Nutcracker Scene 14 (Excerpts)

London Symphony Orchestra

Charles Mackerras (conductor).

01*2005121220051219

Tchaikovsky once said that his whole life had been a chain of misfortunes because of his sexuality.

Beginning a week-long exploration of the paradoxes and dichotomies behind the composer's life, Donald Macleod examines Tchaikovsky's attitude towards both sexes.

Amid the Din of the Ball, Op 38, No 3

Sergei Leiferkus (baritone)

Semion Skigin (piano)

Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Bernard Haitink (conductor)

Six French Songs, Op 65

Julia Varady (soprano)

Aribert Reimann (piano)

The Enchantress Act 1 (Excerpt)

Marina Shaguch

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Neeme Järvi (conductor)

The Nutcracker Scene 14 (Excerpts)

London Symphony Orchestra

Charles Mackerras (conductor).

01*2007121720090803

He begins with an exploration of music written and performed in 1876, the year before Tchaikovsky's short and catastrophic marriage.

Swan Lake (Act 1 Waltz)

Montreal Symphony Orchestra

Charles Dutoit (conductor)

Decca 436 212-2 CD1, Tr 2

String Quartet No 3 (excerpt, 3rd mvt)

Borodin Quartet

Teldec 4509 90433-3 CD2, Tr 7

Cherevichki (Act 1 Sc 2)

Oskana....Ekaterina Morozova (soprano)

Vakula....Valery Popov (tenor)

Orchestra of the Cagliari Lyric Theatre

Gennady Rozhdestvensky (conductor)

CDS 287/1-3 CD1, Tr 5

Francesca da Rimini

London Symphony Orchestra

Igor Markevitch (conductor)

BBCL 4053-2, Tr 1.

Donald Macleod looks at Tchaikovsky's music written and performed in 1876.

He begins with a look at music written and performed in 1876, the year before Tchaikovsky's short and catastrophic marriage.

01A Fragile Boy20150817

A career in music seems a distant dream for the young civil servant. Presented by Donadl Macleod.

A sensitive, emotionally fragile boy, Tchaikovsky was sent to a boarding school where life was harsh. After leaving school, he became a government clerk in the Ministry of Justice. His disillusionment at work though eventually led to him studying music in night classes at the St Petersburg conservatoire, even though a professional career in music was rare in Russia. His studies eventually took over as his full-time occupation, and the evolution of one the greatest composers of all had started.

In the late 19th century, a number of Russian musicians were attempting to turn the tide of Western European influence, and create a new, distinctively Russian, style of music. Tchaikovsky managed to embrace both traditions. A lover of folk music, his early compositions were often inspired by national tunes. His First String Quartet was a stunning success - the second movement was an instant hit all over Europe.

01A Fragile Boy20150817

A career in music seems a distant dream for the young civil servant. Presented by Donadl Macleod.

A sensitive, emotionally fragile boy, Tchaikovsky was sent to a boarding school where life was harsh. After leaving school, he became a government clerk in the Ministry of Justice. His disillusionment at work though eventually led to him studying music in night classes at the St Petersburg conservatoire, even though a professional career in music was rare in Russia. His studies eventually took over as his full-time occupation, and the evolution of one the greatest composers of all had started.

In the late 19th century, a number of Russian musicians were attempting to turn the tide of Western European influence, and create a new, distinctively Russian, style of music. Tchaikovsky managed to embrace both traditions. A lover of folk music, his early compositions were often inspired by national tunes. His First String Quartet was a stunning success - the second movement was an instant hit all over Europe.

01From Clerk To Composer20130722

Donald Macleod begins a week of programmes exploring the life and work of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky played a crucial role in the creation of a new, national musical tradition in his homeland; eventually becoming Russia's greatest musical export and one of the most popular composers of the Romantic era.

Despite his obvious musical talents, Tchaikovsky decided to pursue a career in law. In this first programme, Donald Macleod tells how the young government clerk eventually overcame his doubts and became a student at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Donald then follows him to Moscow, where Tchaikovsky took on a new teaching job and his first significant love affair.

Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin, Entr'acte and Waltz

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi, conductor

BIS SACD-1468, CD1 tk10

Tchaikovsky: My genius, my angel

Ljuba Kazarnovskaya, soprano

Ljuba Orfenova, piano

Naxos, 8555371, CD1 tk2

Tchaikovsky: Piano Sonata in C# minor Op.80, II. Andante

Leslie Howard, piano

Helios, CDH55215, CD1 tk3

Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture

Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela

Gustavo Dudamel, conductor

Deutsche Grammophon, 4779355, CD1 tk3

Tchaikovsky: Voyevoda, Act III: "Get them! Let's go into the house Maryal!" - "Glory, glory to the Russian heart!"

The Academic Big Choir of Central Television and All-Union-Radio

USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra

Vladimir Kozhukhar, conductor

Melodiya

MEL CD 1001869/2, CD2 tks15-17.

01Lake Of Tears20171211

Donald Macleod explores the rich vein of fairy tale and fantasy in Tchaikovsky's music.

Donald Macleod explores the rich vein of fairy tale and fantasy in Tchaikovsky's music. Today, Siegfried amongst the swans, and music to mark the passing of the year.

Before Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write the music for a ballet about a flight of swan-maidens afloat on a lake of tears and the love-struck prince who sets them free, Russian ballet music had traditionally been the province of jobbing 'specialists' rather than fully-fledged art-composers. Tchaikovsky's initial inspiration was largely financial, and he came to the project with little understanding of how to write music to be danced to. But he was a quick student, and soon began to warm to his brief - in the process producing some of his most memorable music. His piano suite The Seasons - actually a sequence of 12 pieces, one for each month of the year - was largely written in moments stolen from his work on Swan Lake.

The Seasons, Op 37b - December (Christmas)
Mikhail Pletnev, piano

Swan Lake, Op 20 - Act 2
Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal
Charles Dutoit, conductor

The Seasons, Op 37b:
January (By the Fireside)
February (Carnival)
June (Barcarolle)
August (Harvest Time)
September (The Hunt)
November (Troika)
Mikhail Pletnev, piano

Produced by Chris Barstow.

0220051213

2/5.

Tchaikovsky, when judging the music of his peers, could dish out some pretty acidic comments, yet he himself dreaded reading reviews of his own works.

Donald Macleod looks at the composer as both the critic and the criticised.

At the Window, In the Shadow, Op 60, No 10

Joan Rodgers (soprano)

Roger Vignoles (piano)

The Fearful Moment, Op 28, No 6

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)

Oleg Boshniakovich (piano)

Meditation for Violin and Orchestra, Op 42, No 1

Dmitry Sitkovetsky (violin)

Academy of St Martin in the Fields

Sir Neville Marriner (conductor)

Theme and Variations, Op 19, No 6

Viktoria Postnikova (piano)

Piano Trio in Am, Op 50 (excerpt)

Borodin Trio.

022005121320051220

Tchaikovsky, when judging the music of his peers, could dish out some pretty acidic comments, yet he himself dreaded reading reviews of his own works.

Donald Macleod looks at the composer as both the critic and the criticised.

At the Window, In the Shadow, Op 60, No 10

Joan Rodgers (soprano)

Roger Vignoles (piano)

The Fearful Moment, Op 28, No 6

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)

Oleg Boshniakovich (piano)

Meditation for Violin and Orchestra, Op 42, No 1

Dmitry Sitkovetsky (violin)

Academy of St Martin in the Fields

Sir Neville Marriner (conductor)

Theme and Variations, Op 19, No 6

Viktoria Postnikova (piano)

Piano Trio in Am, Op 50 (excerpt)

Borodin Trio.

2/5.

Tchaikovsky, when judging the music of his peers, could dish out some pretty acidic comments, yet he himself dreaded reading reviews of his own works.

Donald Macleod looks at the composer as both the critic and the criticised.

At the Window, In the Shadow, Op 60, No 10

Joan Rodgers (soprano)

Roger Vignoles (piano)

The Fearful Moment, Op 28, No 6

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)

Oleg Boshniakovich (piano)

Meditation for Violin and Orchestra, Op 42, No 1

Dmitry Sitkovetsky (violin)

Academy of St Martin in the Fields

Sir Neville Marriner (conductor)

Theme and Variations, Op 19, No 6

Viktoria Postnikova (piano)

Piano Trio in Am, Op 50 (excerpt)

Borodin Trio.

0220051220

Tchaikovsky, when judging the music of his peers, could dish out some pretty acidic comments, yet he himself dreaded reading reviews of his own works.

Donald Macleod looks at the composer as both the critic and the criticised.

At the Window, In the Shadow, Op 60, No 10

Joan Rodgers (soprano)

Roger Vignoles (piano)

The Fearful Moment, Op 28, No 6

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)

Oleg Boshniakovich (piano)

Meditation for Violin and Orchestra, Op 42, No 1

Dmitry Sitkovetsky (violin)

Academy of St Martin in the Fields

Sir Neville Marriner (conductor)

Theme and Variations, Op 19, No 6

Viktoria Postnikova (piano)

Piano Trio in Am, Op 50 (excerpt)

Borodin Trio.

022010101220110503

Donald Macleod focuses on the year 1881, a troubled period in Tchaikovsky's life.

Even for this rootless 'lost decade', 1881 was a wretched year in the life of the composer - and Russia.

As the nation was riven with domestic turmoil, following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, Tchaikovsky also lost one of his greatest champions, the critic Nikolai Rubinstein.

Last - but very much not least - the composer also had to deal with unwanted and relentless attentions of an obsessive young male fan.

In today's episode Donald Macleod presents perhaps Tchaikovsky's greatest chamber work - the Piano Trio, written in memory of his friend and colleague - as well as an excerpt from his glorious "All-Night Vigil", composed for the Russian Orthodox Church.

02*2007121820090804

In 1877, Tchaikovsky took a sudden decision to get married. He wasn't the first or last homosexual man to do so, but the repercussions were calamitous, and the event triggered a crisis from which some believe Tchaikovsky never fully recovered. However, this was also the year of two superlative pieces of music, both awash with references that listeners have since interpreted as autobiographical.

Eugene Onegin (excerpt from the Introduction)

Orchestre de Paris

Semyon Bychkov (conductor)

Philips 438 235-2 CD1, Tr 1

Eugene Onegin (excerpt from the Letter Scene, Act 1)

Tatyana....Nuccia Focile (soprano)

Philips 438 235-2 CD1, Tr 11

Eugene Onegin (excerpt from Act 1 conclusion)

Eugene Onegin....Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)

St Petersburg Chamber Choir

Philips 438 235-2 CD1, Trs 14-15

Symphony No 4 in F minor (excerpt from 1st mvt)

Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra

Evgeny Mravinsky (conductor)

DG 419 745-2 CD1, Tr 1

Eugene Onegin (excerpt from Act 3 conclusion)

Philips 438 235-2 CD2, Tr 15.

Donald Macleod explores 1877, the year of Tchaikovsky's disastrous marriage.

Donald Macleod takes a series of snapshots of a period that lay at the centre of Tchaikovsky's creative life, from 1876 to 1890.

2/5. In 1877, Tchaikovsky took a sudden decision to get married. He wasn't the first or last homosexual man to do so, but the repercussions were calamitous, and the event triggered a crisis from which some believe Tchaikovsky never fully recovered. However, this was also the year of two superlative pieces of music, both awash with references that listeners have since interpreted as autobiographical.

Semyon Bichkov (conductor)

02Early Success2013072320140826

As Tchaikovsky began to seal his reputation as one of Moscow's leading musical personalities, Donald Macleod finds him setting up home on his own, falling out with his mentor, and writing the first Russian string quartet.

Tchaikovsky: None but the lonely heart Op.6 No.6

Sergei Leiferkus, baritone

Semion Skigin, piano

Conifer, 75605512662, CD1 tk4

Tchaikovsky: String Quartet No.1 in D major, II. Andante cantabile

Keller Quartet

Warner, 2564686417, CD1 tk2

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.2 in C minor, II. Andantino marziale, quasi-moderato

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi, conductor

BIS, SACD1418, CD1 tk2

Tchaikovsky: The Snow Maiden (First song of Lel)

Irina Mishura-Lekhtman, mezzo-soprano

Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Chandos, CHAN9324, CD1 tk7

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 in B flat minor

Martha Argerich, piano

Berlin Philharmonic

Claudio Abbado, conductor

Deutsche Grammophon, 4498162, CD1 tks1-3.

As Tchaikovsky began to seal his reputation as one of Moscow's leading musical personalities, Donald Macleod finds him setting up home on his own, falling out with his mentor, and writing the first Russian string quartet.

Tchaikovsky: None but the lonely heart Op.6 No.6

Sergei Leiferkus, baritone

Semion Skigin, piano

Conifer, 75605512662, CD1 tk4

Tchaikovsky: String Quartet No.1 in D major, II. Andante cantabile

Keller Quartet

Warner, 2564686417, CD1 tk2

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.2 in C minor, II. Andantino marziale, quasi-moderato

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi, conductor

BIS, SACD1418, CD1 tk2

Tchaikovsky: The Snow Maiden (First song of Lel)

Irina Mishura-Lekhtman, mezzo-soprano

Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Chandos, CHAN9324, CD1 tk7

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 in B flat minor

Martha Argerich, piano

Berlin Philharmonic

Claudio Abbado, conductor

Deutsche Grammophon, 4498162, CD1 tks1-3.

02Fantasizing Symphonically20171212

Donald Macleod explores the rich vein of fairy tale and fantasy in Tchaikovsky's music.

Donald Macleod explores the rich vein of fairy tale and fantasy in Tchaikovsky's music. Today, a pair of symphonic fantasies - one inspired by Shakespeare, the other by Dante.

Should there be a tempest in The Tempest? That was one of Tchaikovsky's questions for the leading Russian art and music critic Vladimir Stasov, who had asked the composer what his next work would be. Tchaikovsky had several ideas in mind, and it was Stasov who pushed him in the direction of Shakespeare's tale of shipwreck on Prospero's enchanted isle. Stasov was very much of the opinion that Tchaikovsky should indeed include music depicting said severe weather event, and he obliged magnificently. Severe weather was also a feature of the scenario for Francesca da Rimini, which tells in music the story of Francesca, the beautiful daughter of a noble Italian family, and her lover Paolo, whose adulterous love affair was rewarded with punishment in the second circle of hell, lashed for all eternity by terrible whirlwinds.

The Tempest - symphonic fantasia after Shakespeare, Op 18
Berlin Philharmonic
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Cradle Song, Op 16 No 1
Joan Rodgers, soprano
Roger Vignoles, piano

Francesca da Rimini - symphonic fantasia after Dante, Op 32
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Evgeny Mravinsky, conductor

Produced by Chris Barstow.

02Three Women20150818
02Three Women20150818

02Three Women20150818

Donald Macleod looks at some of the most significant female relationships in the composer's life.

Homosexuallity was technically illegal in 19th century Russia, and certainly frowned upon. Perhaps that's why Tchaikovsky felt compelled to marry, much to the horror of his closest friends and family. The marriage was a disaster, leading to terrible consequences for both sides. Around the same time, Tchaikovsky was developing a highly unusual relationship with another woman - an admirer of his music. This rich widow became his benefactor and occasional counsellor; a significant presence in his life almost until his death.

02Three Women20150818

Donald Macleod looks at some of the most significant female relationships in the composer's life.

Homosexuallity was technically illegal in 19th century Russia, and certainly frowned upon. Perhaps that's why Tchaikovsky felt compelled to marry, much to the horror of his closest friends and family. The marriage was a disaster, leading to terrible consequences for both sides. Around the same time, Tchaikovsky was developing a highly unusual relationship with another woman - an admirer of his music. This rich widow became his benefactor and occasional counsellor; a significant presence in his life almost until his death.

0320051221

Tchaikovsky's state of mind with regard to his work could veer between ecstatic optimism and despairing doubt.

These mood swings often, as Donald Macleod discovers, severely affected the composer's life and music.

It's Painful, It's Sweet, Op 6, No 3

Ljuba Kazarnovskaya (soprano)

Ljuba Orfenova (piano)

Marche Slave, Op 31

Berlin Philharmonic

Herbert Von Karajan (conductor)

Suite No 3, Op 55 (excerpt)

Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi (conductor)

The Oprichnik, Act 2 (excerpt)

Prince Vjaz'minskij....Vladimir Ognovenko (baritone)

Andrej Morozov....Vsevolod Grivnov (tenor)

Basmanov....Alexandra Durseneva (alto)

Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Lirico de Cagliari

Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (conductor)

Allegro Brillante - Piano Concerto No 3, Op 75

Mikhail Pletnev (piano)

The Philharmonia

Vladimir Fedoseyev (conductor).

03*2005121420051221

Tchaikovsky's state of mind with regard to his work could veer between ecstatic optimism and despairing doubt.

These mood swings often, as Donald Macleod discovers, severely affected the composer's life and music.

It's painful, It's Sweet, Op 6, No 3

Ljuba Kazarnovskaya (soprano)

Ljuba Orfenova (piano)

Marche Slave, Op 31

Berlin Philharmonic

Herbert Von Karajan (conductor)

Suite No 3, Op 55 (excerpt)

Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi (conductor)

The Oprichnik, Act 2 (excerpt)

Prince Vjaz'minskij....Vladimir Ognovenko (baritone)

Andrej Morozov....Vsevolod Grivnov (tenor)

Basmanov....Alexandra Durseneva (alto)

Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Lirico de Cagliari

Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (conductor)

Allegro Brillante - Piano Concerto No 3, Op 75

Mikhail Pletnev (piano)

The Philharmonia

Vladimir Fedoseyev (conductor).

03*2007121920090805

1877 had been a wretched year for Tchaikovsky. His marriage had gone hideously wrong in a matter of days and had left deep emotional scars. But the following year, things began to look up. He left his job at the Moscow Conservatoire, which had been a millstone around his neck, and correspondence now flourished between Tchaikovsky and his 'best friend', the wealthy widow Nadhezda von Meck. The fact that he was now solvent, owing to a monthly allowance from her, must have helped.

Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (excerpt, The Lord's Prayer)

St Petersburg Chamber Choir

Nikolai Korniev (conductor)

Philips 473 069-2 CD1, Tr 8

Maid of Orleans (excerpt from Act 1 conclusion)

Joan of Arc....Sofia Preobrazhenskaya (soprano)

Orchestra and Chorus of the Kirov

Boris Khaikin (conductor)

MYTO 992.H028 CD1, Trs 8-10

Violin Concerto in D, Op 35

Gidon Kremer (violin)

Berlin Philharmonic

Lorin Maazel (conductor)

DG 459 043-2, Trs 1-3

Amid the din of the ball; It was in the early spring, Op 38

Joan Rodgers (soprano)

Roger Vignoles (piano)

Hyperion CDA 66617, Tr 5.

Donald Macleod explores 1878, which was a happier year for Tchaikovsky.

B Khaikin (conductor)

Violin Concerto in D

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

03A Private Life In Turmoil20150819

Whilst Tchaikovsky's reputation was growing, his personal life was becoming intolerable.

Tchaikovsky was stuck in a marriage that was founded on a huge misunderstanding. He was gay and had thought that the union was a mutually agreeable arrangement. However, his wife did not understand at all, and remained under the delusion that Tchaikovsky loved her. His struggles with their hopeless relationship drove both to unbearable mental anquish.

Whilst all this was going on Tchaikovsky was fêted in Russia, composing his 1812 overture and his ballet Swan Lake. He was now in a position to stop teaching at the conservatoire and make his living composing full-time.

03A Private Life in Turmoil20150819

Whilst Tchaikovsky's reputation was growing, his personal life was becoming intolerable.

Tchaikovsky was stuck in a marriage that was founded on a huge misunderstanding. He was gay and had thought that the union was a mutually agreeable arrangement. However, his wife did not understand at all, and remained under the delusion that Tchaikovsky loved her. His struggles with their hopeless relationship drove both to unbearable mental anquish.

Whilst all this was going on Tchaikovsky was fêted in Russia, composing his 1812 overture and his ballet Swan Lake. He was now in a position to stop teaching at the conservatoire and make his living composing full-time.

03Money And Marriage2013072420140827

Two women enter Tchaikovsky's sphere, both of whom would have a profound impact on the direction of his life. The wealthy Nadezhda von Meck became the composer's most important patron, meanwhile Tchaikovsky's disastrous marriage to Antonina Ivanovna Milyukova nearly destroyed him. Presented by Donald Macleod.

Two women enter Tchaikovsky's sphere, both of whom would have a profound impact on the direction of his life. The wealthy Nadezhda von Meck became the composer's most important patron, meanwhile Tchaikovsky's disastrous marriage to Antonina Ivanovna Milyukova nearly destroyed him. Presented by Donald Macleod.

Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake, Act I: Polonaise

London Symphony Orchestra, Andre Previn, conductor

EMI, 9676842, CD1 tk17

Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme

Mstislav Rostropovich (Cello)

Berlin Philharmonic

Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Deutsche Grammophon, 4474132, CD1 tk4-12

Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin, Act I: Letter Scene

Nuccia Focile (Tatyana, soprano)

Orchestra de Paris

Semyon Bychkov, conductor

Philips, 4382352, CD1 tk11

Tchaikovsky: Souvenir d'un lieu cher, No.3: Melodie

Josiane Marfurt, piano

Delos, DE3413, CD1 tk5

Tchaikovsky: Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord

Leningrad Glinka Choir

Vladislav, Chernushenko, conductor

Russian, RDCD11040, CD1 tk15.

03Money and Marriage2013072420140827

Two women enter Tchaikovsky's sphere, both of whom would have a profound impact on the direction of his life. The wealthy Nadezhda von Meck became the composer's most important patron, meanwhile Tchaikovsky's disastrous marriage to Antonina Ivanovna Milyukova nearly destroyed him. Presented by Donald Macleod.

Two women enter Tchaikovsky's sphere, both of whom would have a profound impact on the direction of his life. The wealthy Nadezhda von Meck became the composer's most important patron, meanwhile Tchaikovsky's disastrous marriage to Antonina Ivanovna Milyukova nearly destroyed him. Presented by Donald Macleod.

Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake, Act I: Polonaise

London Symphony Orchestra, Andre Previn, conductor

EMI, 9676842, CD1 tk17

Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme

Mstislav Rostropovich (Cello)

Berlin Philharmonic

Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Deutsche Grammophon, 4474132, CD1 tk4-12

Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin, Act I: Letter Scene

Nuccia Focile (Tatyana, soprano)

Orchestra de Paris

Semyon Bychkov, conductor

Philips, 4382352, CD1 tk11

Tchaikovsky: Souvenir d'un lieu cher, No.3: Melodie

Josiane Marfurt, piano

Delos, DE3413, CD1 tk5

Tchaikovsky: Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord

Leningrad Glinka Choir

Vladislav, Chernushenko, conductor

Russian, RDCD11040, CD1 tk15.

03The Complete Decline Of The Choreographic Art!20171213

Donald Macleod explores the rich vein of fairy tale and fantasy in Tchaikovsky's music.

Donald Macleod explores the rich vein of fairy tale and fantasy in Tchaikovsky's music. Today, enchanted sleep and a brush with the supernatural.

No-one likes a cast-off, and Tchaikovsky was no exception. At first that extended even to the libretto his beloved brother Modest had written for the now almost completely forgotten composer Nikolay Klenovsky, based on Pushkin's short story The Queen of Spades. The collaboration was aborted and the libretto became available. Initially Tchaikovsky was dismissive, but he came round to the idea and set to work with gusto. The story concerns a gambling-addicted army officer, Hermann, who's in love with Lisa. Lisa's guardian, an old countess, is reputedly in possession of a failsafe formula for winning at cards, but when Hermann tries to force it out of her she dies of fright. The Queen of Spades wasn't an ace in the hole at its first performance in December 1890, but critical hostility quickly receded, and it's retained a firm place in the repertoire ever since. The same is true of the ballet Tchaikovsky completed immediately beforehand - The Sleeping Beauty. Tsar Alexander II achieved almost British levels of understatement when, after attending a special dress rehearsal of the complete ballet, he gave his considered opinion: 'very nice'.

The Sleeping Beauty, Op 66; Act 3 No 22, Polacca
Russian National Orchestra
Mikhail Pletnev, conductor

The Queen of Spades, Op 68 - Act 3 scene 1
Misha Didyk, tenor (Herman)
Larissa Diadkova, mezzo soprano (Ghost of the Countess)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Mariss Jansons, conductor

The Sleeping Beauty, Op 66; Act 1
Russian National Orchestra
Mikhail Pletnev, conductor.

03Wayward Niece, Favourite Nephew20101013

Donald Macleod explores the difficult events of the year 1883.

Just as he was struggling to cope with his own domestic affairs, in 1883 Tchaikovsky found himself - entirely unwillingly - having to deal with a family crisis, as his wayward, morphine-addled niece Tanya arrived in Paris, heavily pregnant with an illegitimate child.

Uncle Pyotr was called upon to sort out the mess - just as he was falling heavily - self-destructively - in love with Tanya's brother, his own nephew Bob.

Meanwhile, the composer was struggling with what was to become perhaps his favourite opera - though one little performed today: the tale of the Cossack warrior Mazeppa.

Donald Macleod presents excerpts from the opera, as well as a complete performance of Tchaikovsky's Second Suite for Orchestra - as the composer ditched his familiar symphonic form for a daring new exploration of dance, melody and colour.

03Wayward Niece, Favourite Nephew2010101320110504

Donald Macleod explores the difficult events of the year 1883.

Just as he was struggling to cope with his own domestic affairs, in 1883 Tchaikovsky found himself - entirely unwillingly - having to deal with a family crisis, as his wayward, morphine-addled niece Tanya arrived in Paris, heavily pregnant with an illegitimate child.

Uncle Pyotr was called upon to sort out the mess - just as he was falling heavily - self-destructively - in love with Tanya's brother, his own nephew Bob.

Meanwhile, the composer was struggling with what was to become perhaps his favourite opera - though one little performed today: the tale of the Cossack warrior Mazeppa.

Donald Macleod presents excerpts from the opera, as well as a complete performance of Tchaikovsky's Second Suite for Orchestra - as the composer ditched his familiar symphonic form for a daring new exploration of dance, melody and colour.

Donald Macleod explores the difficult events of the year 1883.

Just as he was struggling to cope with his own domestic affairs, in 1883 Tchaikovsky found himself - entirely unwillingly - having to deal with a family crisis, as his wayward, morphine-addled niece Tanya arrived in Paris, heavily pregnant with an illegitimate child.

Uncle Pyotr was called upon to sort out the mess - just as he was falling heavily - self-destructively - in love with Tanya's brother, his own nephew Bob.

Meanwhile, the composer was struggling with what was to become perhaps his favourite opera - though one little performed today: the tale of the Cossack warrior Mazeppa.

Donald Macleod presents excerpts from the opera, as well as a complete performance of Tchaikovsky's Second Suite for Orchestra - as the composer ditched his familiar symphonic form for a daring new exploration of dance, melody and colour.

0420051215

Donald Macleod examines the composer's complicated relationship with his native Russia - a land he professed to adore, though he endeavoured to spend a great deal of time abroad.

Spirit My Heart Away

Olga Borodina (mezzo soprano)

Larissa Gergieva (piano)

Scherzo à la Russe, Op 1, No 1

Viktoria Postnikova (piano)

Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op 33

Mstislav Rostropovich (cello)

Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra

Gennady Rozhdestvensky (conductor)

Symphony No 2 in Cm, Op 17 (excerpt)

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Bernard Haitink (conductor)

Dumka, Op 58

Xiang-Dong Kong (piano).

04*2005121520051222
04*2007122020090806

'I don't think the piece has any serious merits, and I shan't be the slightest bit surprised or offended if you find it unsuitable for concert performance,' said Tchaikovsky of his 1812 Overture.

Donald considers how the 1880s began for Tchaikovsky, with this outlandish piece of Russian pomp and circumstance - it was brash, vulgar and militaristic, but popular with British audiences, possibly owing to the musical dispatching of Napoleon's armies.

But there were also with more refined masterpieces such as the Serenade for Strings and a look further back into Russian history through his opera Mazeppa.

1812 Overture

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Georg Solti (conductor)

Decca 417 400-2

Serenade for Strings

USSR State Symphony Orchestra

Evgeny Svetlanov (conductor)

Scribendum SC 024 CD5, Trs 5-8

Mazeppa (Mazeppa's aria from Act 2)

Mazeppa....Sergei Leiferkus (baritone)

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Jarvi (conductor)

DG 439 906-2 CD2, Tr 3.

Donald Macleod considers how the 1880s began for Tchaikovsky, with his 1812 Overture.

'I don't think the piece has any serious merits, and I shan't be the slightest bit surprised or offended if you find it unsuitable for concert performance,' said Tchaikovsky of his 1812 Overture. It's brash, vulgar, militaristic and popular with British audiences, possibly owing to the musical dispatching of Napoleon's armies.

Donald Macleod considers how the 1880s began for Tchaikovsky, with this outlandish piece of Russian pomp and circumstance, but also with more refined masterpieces such as the Serenade for Strings and a look further back into Russian history through his opera Mazeppa.

George Solti (conductor)

04A 'worthless' Masterpiece20171214

Donald Macleod explores the rich vein of fairy tale and fantasy in Tchaikovsky's music.

Donald Macleod explores the rich vein of fairy tale and fantasy in Tchaikovsky's music. Today, a snow maiden, the Tsarina's slippers, and the "utterly worthless" 1st Piano Concerto.

In the early part of 1873, Moscow's Maly Theatre was closed for renovation. While the works were being completed, the company shared a stage with the the opera and ballet companies of the Bolshoi, which gave rise to the idea of a 'spectacular' production involving all three troupes. A fairy-tale subject was agreed on - The Snow Maiden - and Tchaikovsky was approached to write the incidental music. He completed it in record time - 19 numbers in a single month. His next project, a comic fantasy set in an imaginary Ukrainian village, took far longer to finish - 11 years. This was Vakula the Smith or, as it later became, Cherevichki, based on Gogol's play Christmas Night. Tchaikovsky came to regard it as "musically well-nigh my best opera", but sadly neither contemporary audiences nor posterity have agreed with this judgement. When Tchaikovsky played through his new piano concerto for his friend and mentor Nikolai Rubinstein, once again the reaction wasn't the one he had hoped for: "bad... vulgar... absolutely unplayable... utterly worthless" - a misjudgement that must be up there with Decca turning down The Beatles. Fortunately, Tchaikovsky stuck to his guns and published his First Piano Concerto unaltered - save for the removal of the dedication to Rubinstein. The audience at its Boston premiere loved it, as audiences have continued to do ever since.

The Snow Maiden - Introduction
MDR Sinfonieorchester
Krystian Järvi, conductor

The Slippers - Act 1 scene 2 (excerpt)
Ekaterina Morosova, soprano (Oksana)
Valerij Popov, tenor (Vakula)
Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Lirico di Cagliari,
Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, conductor

Piano Concerto No 1 in B flat minor, Op 23
Denis Matsuev, piano
Mariinsky Orchestra
Valery Gergiev, conductor

Produced by Chris Barstow.

04Escape To The Country20130725

Life in Moscow and St. Petersburg was hectic for the now famous composer. In 1883 he was asked to provide music for the coronation of the new Tsar. Donald Macleod describes how Tchaikovsky made frequent escapes to the countryside, eventually moving out of the city altogether.

Tchaikovsky: Serenade for String Orchestra in C: I. Pezzo in forma di Sonatina

Berlin Philharmonic

Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Deutsche Grammophon, 4637742, CD5 tk5

Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio Op.50, I. Pezzo elegiaco

Elvira Bekova, violin

Alfia Bekova, cello

Eleonora Bekova, piano

Chandos, CHAN9719, CD1 tk1

Tchaikovsky: Mazeppa, Act II: Mazeppa's Aria

Sergei Leiferkus, (Mazeppa, baritone)

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi, conductor

Deutsche Grammophon, 4399062, CD2 tk3

Tchaikovsky (arr. Taneyev): Symphony No.4, III. Scherzo

Anthony Goldstone, piano

Caroline Clemmow, piano

Divine Art, 25020, CD1 tk3

Tchaikovsky: Sleeping Beauty Act I: Scene & Rose Adagio

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Mark Ermler, conductor

ROH, 306/8, CD1 tks16-17.

04Escape To The Country2013072520140828

Life in Moscow and St. Petersburg was hectic for the now famous composer. In 1883 he was asked to provide music for the coronation of the new Tsar. Donald Macleod describes how Tchaikovsky made frequent escapes to the countryside, eventually moving out of the city altogether.

04Escape to the Country2013072520140828

Life in Moscow and St. Petersburg was hectic for the now famous composer. In 1883 he was asked to provide music for the coronation of the new Tsar. Donald Macleod describes how Tchaikovsky made frequent escapes to the countryside, eventually moving out of the city altogether.

Life in Moscow and St. Petersburg was hectic for the now famous composer. In 1883 he was asked to provide music for the coronation of the new Tsar. Donald Macleod describes how Tchaikovsky made frequent escapes to the countryside, eventually moving out of the city altogether.

Tchaikovsky: Serenade for String Orchestra in C: I. Pezzo in forma di Sonatina

Berlin Philharmonic

Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Deutsche Grammophon, 4637742, CD5 tk5

Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio Op.50, I. Pezzo elegiaco

Elvira Bekova, violin

Alfia Bekova, cello

Eleonora Bekova, piano

Chandos, CHAN9719, CD1 tk1

Tchaikovsky: Mazeppa, Act II: Mazeppa's Aria

Sergei Leiferkus, (Mazeppa, baritone)

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi, conductor

Deutsche Grammophon, 4399062, CD2 tk3

Tchaikovsky (arr. Taneyev): Symphony No.4, III. Scherzo

Anthony Goldstone, piano

Caroline Clemmow, piano

Divine Art, 25020, CD1 tk3

Tchaikovsky: Sleeping Beauty Act I: Scene & Rose Adagio

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Mark Ermler, conductor

ROH, 306/8, CD1 tks16-17.

04Russia's Musical Hero20150820

Despite intense personal difficulties, Tchaikovsky becomes Russia's most fêted composer. Presented by Donald Macleod.

The disastrous marriage Tchaikovsky had entered into still cast a long shadow. His estranged wife had become pregnant by another man and dumped the child in an orphanage. Even though he could now divorce her easily Tchaikovsky still did not trust her not to make his homosexuality public.

There was more angst and heartache. His long-standing servant, with whom he had become deeply attached, was conscripted into the army, leaving Tchaikovsky bereft. Later his teacher and life-long friend Rubinstein died and then Tchaikovsky's sister became addicted to morphine.

Whilst his personal life remained turbulent, Tchaikovsky's musical career continued its trajectory. The new Tsar invited Tchaikovsky to write his coronation music, confirming him as Russia's pre-eminent composer.

Despite intense personal difficulties, Tchaikovsky becomes Russia's most fêted composer. Presented by Donald Macleod.

The disastrous marriage Tchaikovsky had entered into still cast a long shadow. His estranged wife had become pregnant by another man and dumped the child in an orphanage. Even though he could now divorce her easily Tchaikovsky still did not trust her not to make his homosexuality public.

There was more angst and heartache. His long-standing servant, with whom he had become deeply attached, was conscripted into the army, leaving Tchaikovsky bereft. Later his teacher and life-long friend Rubinstein died and then Tchaikovsky's sister became addicted to morphine.

Whilst his personal life remained turbulent, Tchaikovsky's musical career continued its trajectory. The new Tsar invited Tchaikovsky to write his coronation music, confirming him as Russia's pre-eminent composer.

04Two Curios20101014

Donald Macleod on the curious Moscow Cantata and the two-movement Concert Fantasia.

Alongside Tchaikovsky's many celebrated compositions, there are a host of rare and obscure works that barely see the concert stage - but surely none as peculiar as the "Moscow Cantata" of 1883, a work composed to order for the coronation of the new Tsar Alexander III.and barely performed since.

Donald Macleod presents the curious tale of one of the strangest works in the great composer's entire output, and introduces another bold experiment from Tchaikovsky's 'lost decade' - his two-movement "Concert Fantasia" for piano and orchestra.

04Two Curios2010101420110505

Donald Macleod on the curious Moscow Cantata and the two-movement Concert Fantasia.

Alongside Tchaikovsky's many celebrated compositions, there are a host of rare and obscure works that barely see the concert stage - but surely none as peculiar as the "Moscow Cantata" of 1883, a work composed to order for the coronation of the new Tsar Alexander III.and barely performed since.

Donald Macleod presents the curious tale of one of the strangest works in the great composer's entire output, and introduces another bold experiment from Tchaikovsky's 'lost decade' - his two-movement "Concert Fantasia" for piano and orchestra.

05A Legendary Death20150821

05A Legendary Death20150821

Donald Macleod looks at Tchaikovsky last years and the fantastical rumours and theories surrounding his demise.

In his latter years Tchaikovsky was a living legend, accepted as one of the greatest musicians on the planet. The Tsar had awarded Tchaikovsky an annual allowance making life very comfortable and rewarding for him.

The unrest of his private life, in previous years, had largely settled but he was thrown by the abrupt ending of his friendship with his benefactor. The relationship, which was conducted through letters only, was ended by her with little explanation - this was something that troubled Tchaikovsky endlessly.

Compositions still flowed from him, producing what became some of the world's favourite music. Tchaikovsky travelled across Europe and to America to conduct and receive awards.

His funeral was a huge occasion in Moscow. As time passed, conjecture about the facts behind Tchaikovsky's death grew and grew to colossal proportions.

05A Legendary Death20150821

Donald Macleod looks at Tchaikovsky last years and the fantastical rumours and theories surrounding his demise.

In his latter years Tchaikovsky was a living legend, accepted as one of the greatest musicians on the planet. The Tsar had awarded Tchaikovsky an annual allowance making life very comfortable and rewarding for him.

The unrest of his private life, in previous years, had largely settled but he was thrown by the abrupt ending of his friendship with his benefactor. The relationship, which was conducted through letters only, was ended by her with little explanation - this was something that troubled Tchaikovsky endlessly.

Compositions still flowed from him, producing what became some of the world's favourite music. Tchaikovsky travelled across Europe and to America to conduct and receive awards.

His funeral was a huge occasion in Moscow. As time passed, conjecture about the facts behind Tchaikovsky's death grew and grew to colossal proportions.

05An odd couple20171215

Donald Macleod explores the rich vein of fairy tale and fantasy in Tchaikovsky's music.

Donald Macleod explores the rich vein of fairy tale and fantasy in Tchaikovsky's music. Today, The Nutcracker and the work it was originally double-billed with - the opera Iolanta.

"It's a pity that so much fine music is expended on nonsense unworthy of attention", wrote the critic of the St Petersburg Gazette after the premiere. "Infinitely poorer than The Sleeping Beauty", was Tchaikovsky's own verdict on what's proved to be probably his most popular ballet. But his lack of enthusiasm for The Nutcracker is hardly surprising, given the major headache its composition caused him. In fact Tchaikovsky became so depressed by the "colourless, dry, hasty and wretched" music he felt he was producing that he begged the Director of the Imperial Court Theatre, Prince Vsevolozhsky, to release him from his contract. Fortunately for us, Vsevolozhsky persuaded Tchaikovsky to summon up the inner strength necessary to complete his score. Why did it give him so much trouble? Part of the problem may have lain in his initial reservations about the project - in particular what he judged to be an unsatisfactory adaptation of ETA Hoffman's original story of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by Alexandre Dumas senior. Tchaikovsky had no such doubts about the plot of the one-act opera that somewhat curiously shared the bill with The Nutcracker in its opening run, Iolanta - based on Henrik Hertz's one-act play King René's Daughter.

The Nutcracker, Op 71; Act 2 No 14c Pas de deux: Variation II, The Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy
London Symphony Orchestra
Antal Doráti, conductor

Iolanta, Op 69; No 6, scene and aria of Robert; No 6a, Romance of Vaudémont
Alexey Markov, baritone (Robert)
Sergei Skorokhodov, tenor (Vaudémont)
Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra
Emmanuel Villaume, conductor

The Nutcracker, Op 71; Act 1
London Symphony Orchestra
Antal Doráti, conductor

Produced by Chris Barstow.

05 LAST*20051216
05 LAST*2005121620051230

Donald Macleod looks at the most fundamental dilemma Tchaikovsky faced - whether to live or to die.

Softly the Spirit Flew Up to Heaven, Op 47, No 2

Nina Rautio (soprano)

Semion Skigin (piano)

Symphony No 6 in Bm, Op 74, Pathetique

Leningrad PO

Evgeny Mravinsky (conductor)

None But the Lonely Heart, Op 6, No 6

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)

Oleg Boshniakovich (piano).

05 LAST*2007122120090807

For Tchaikovsky, who was not the most prolific composer, 1890 was an astonishing year. A few days after the premiere of Sleeping Beauty, he set off for Florence, where he completed his opera Queen of Spades at breakneck speed in just 43 days. Donald Macleod dips into the opera and also enjoys Tchaikovsky's other Souvenir of Florence.

Queen of Spades (excerpt from Overture)

Kirov Orchestra, St Petersburg

Valery Gergiev (conductor)

Philips 438 141-2 CD1, Tr 1

Souvenir de Florence

Yuri Yurov (viola)

Mikhail Milman (cello)

Borodin Quartet

Teldec 4509 90422-2 CD1, Trs 6-9

Queen of Spades (Act 3, Sc 2)

Liza....Maria Gulegina (soprano)

Herman....Gegam Grigorian (tenor)

Kirov Chorus and Orchestra, St Petersburg

Philips 438 141-2 CD3, Trs 6-7

Sleeping Beauty (Waltz)

Philharmonia Orchestra

Herbert von Karajan (conductor)

EMI 476 899-2, Tr 8.

Donald Macleod explores 1891 which, for Tchaikovsky, saw the premiere of Sleeping Beauty.

05 LASTFinal Years2013072620140829

Donald Macleod looks at what occupied Tchaikovsky towards the end of his life: his last operas, one more ballet, and a final symphony, plus a new musical pursuit as the ageing composer took lessons in conducting.

Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence, III. Allegretto moderato

The Georgian Chamber Orchestra

Liana Issakadze, leader

Orfeo, C307921, CD1 tk8

Tchaikovsky: The Queen of Spades: Act III Scene II

Tamara Milaskina, (Lisa, soprano)

Vladimir Atlantov, (Herman, tenor)

Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra

Mark Ermler, conductor

Philips, 4203752, CD3 tks6-7

Tchaikovsky: Our Father

Corydon Singers

Matthew Best, conductor

Hyperion, CDA66948, CD1 tk6

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker: Act II: Waltz of the Flowers, Final Waltz and Apotheosis

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

ROH, 304/5, CD2 tks9-14

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6, II Allego con grazia

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi, conductor

BIS, CD 1897/98, CD6 tk2.

05 LASTFinal Years2013072620140829

Donald Macleod looks at what occupied Tchaikovsky towards the end of his life: his last operas, one more ballet, and a final symphony, plus a new musical pursuit as the ageing composer took lessons in conducting.

Donald Macleod looks at what occupied Tchaikovsky towards the end of his life: his last operas, one more ballet, and a final symphony, plus a new musical pursuit as the ageing composer took lessons in conducting.

Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence, III. Allegretto moderato

The Georgian Chamber Orchestra

Liana Issakadze, leader

Orfeo, C307921, CD1 tk8

Tchaikovsky: The Queen of Spades: Act III Scene II

Tamara Milaskina, (Lisa, soprano)

Vladimir Atlantov, (Herman, tenor)

Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra

Mark Ermler, conductor

Philips, 4203752, CD3 tks6-7

Tchaikovsky: Our Father

Corydon Singers

Matthew Best, conductor

Hyperion, CDA66948, CD1 tk6

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker: Act II: Waltz of the Flowers, Final Waltz and Apotheosis

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Mark Ermler, conductor

ROH, 304/5, CD2 tks9-14

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6, II Allego con grazia

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Neeme Järvi, conductor

BIS, CD 1897/98, CD6 tk2.

05 LASTThe Manfred Problem2010101520110506

Donald Macleod re-evaluates Tchaikovsky's controversial Manfred Symphony of 1885.

Donald Macleod ends his week exploring Tchaikovsky's 'lost decade' with the black sheep of his orchestral oeuvre - a symphony that's not really a symphony; a work that the great conductor Leonard Bernstein called 'junk' and refused to perform; and yet one that contains some of the most beautiful and lyrical moments in his entire output.

At first, the composer adored his programmatic "Manfred Symphony" of 1885.

Inspired by Lord Byron's poem, the process of writing the piece took him several anguished months - and yet, just a few months after he'd basked in satisfaction at its premiere, Tchaikovsky was to reject it forever.

"Abominable", he said.

"I loathe it deeply".

Since then, the work's been a pariah - included almost apologetically on box sets of complete Tchaikovsky symphonies.

Time for a re-evaluation; Donald Macleod presents a rare complete performance by the Russian National Orchestra conducted by Mikhail Pletnev.