Tchaikovsky: The Seasons & Dumka
All the other works of art, literature and music titled “Seasons” treat the seasons as determined by the weather and human activity (planting and harvest, heat and cold) characteristic of spring, summer, autumn and winter. Not so with Tchaikovsky. He divides the year into its twelve months. Each piece of the piano cycle illustrates a month of the year. This is most likely due to the demands of its St Petersburg publisher Nikolay Bernard, who in 1875 asked Tchaikovsky to write suitable piano pieces for the twelve 1876 issues of his periodical Nouvelliste as musical inserts for domestic performance, which Tchaikovsky was very happy to do, not least because of the generous remuneration he could expect for them. Each piece is prefaced by a literary motto drawn from contemporary Russian poetry, no doubt added retrospectively by the publisher. Poets quoted include Alexander Pushkin, Alexey Tolstoy, Nikolay Nekrasov, Vasily Zhukovsky and Afanasy Fet. On this new release, Tchaikovsky’s Seasons are performed by Andrej Hoteev.