Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony

This is a truly outstanding (and astounding!) work, not easy to play, especially by an under-sized orchestra – but here, the Sydney Youth Orchestra gives it a cracking good go, despite being somewhat short of players. I was certainly 'living it' (as you do) while listening to this live performance.

Tchaikovsky's fourth symphony is one of those rare pieces that have brought out the best and most creative work from a time of personal torment for the composer. It is very, very powerful stuff, evocative of so much, and at the same time entirely engrossing. Trust me on this!

I know it so well that I could conduct it myself, without even having the score in front of me. I memorised the entire work several decades ago, in fine detail, which is something I find (perhaps) surprisingly easy to do.

I have gone with this particular performance (a) because it has the whole work in one video rather than split into separate movements, which helps ensure the pacing is correct, and (b) as an encouraging indication that today's youth are just as capable of performing classical works – and as enthusiastically and well – as previous generations have done. It is a good sign...

I was so pleased that conductor Brian Buggy got every section to stand to be applauded and cheered separately, as well as all together – and especially pleased at the reception the audience gave the woodwind section, who performed brilliantly what is a somewhat intricate and fairly demanding work for them.

Overall, it is admittedly a flawed performance in some respects, though nothing at all serious, and it's still 'plenty bonzer', easily worth three-quarters of an hour of anyone's time!


  1. My favourite composer, though the first movement of his Pathetique symphony will always remain my favourite piece of work. Still wonderful though. Thanks John.

  2. I too had him as my favourite composer for many years, and with no regrets about that even today. It all started when my grandmother took me to the cinema to watch the original Disney Fantasia...

    As for the Sixth Symphony: I might well feature that here, one day soon!


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