Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (07.05.1840 – 06.11.1893) was a Russian composer of the romantic period, some of whose works are among the most popular music in the classical repertoire. Particularly noteworthy are his ballets The Nutcracker, Op. 71 and Swan Lake, Op. 20, his Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23, his Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, his 1812 Overture, Op. 49 (complete with canon fire!) and his Symphonies No. 5 & 6.
Tchaikovsky’s sixth symphony is the crowning achievement of a trilogy of symphonies about fate (all of which appear on our recommended recording) in which the acceptance of death is the only way out. Can there be a more grim ending to a symphony than the stepwise fall into despair of the sixth symphony’s Finale? Among the many swansongs in musical history this one stands out. Within ten days of its first performance in St. Petersburgh its lonely , suffering composer was dead (possibly by his own hand).
We have chosen to add Mravinsky’s fine 1960 performance with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. The sound can be a problem on some early releases but more recent incarnations on CD have more than acceptable sound.