Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64


4.5
superb

Review

by taylormemer USER (92 Reviews)
June 26th, 2008 | 43 replies


Release Date: 1888 | Tracklist


Ask the average Joe Bloggs about what was significant in the year of 1888 and he’ll probably tell you Heinrich Hertz discovered radio waves, but more importantly, at least for music’s sake, the year of 1888 was classical music’s Golden Year. It was in this year that Antonin Dvorak composed, released and premiered his renowned 9th Symphony, which developed a cultural following similar to that of Beethoven’s 9th. Edvard Grieg released his ever popular Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Erik Satie published his controversial Trios Gymnopedies,and Gustav Mahler released his lengthy 1st Symphony. However, it was also in this year that Pytor Tchaikovsky composed one of his most beloved symphonies: his 5th in E minor.

Such a number before held appraisal from the giant Beethoven, so living up to standards for all composers, was a challenge, even that of Tchaikovsky. Preceded by the illustrious 4th, and superseded by the amazing 6th, the 5th feels like it’s suffered from the “middle-child” effect from its siblings over the years. Tchaikovsky himself doubted his abilities numerous times during the composition of the piece. He often wrote to his relatives about how distressed he was about how it would be accepted by the public – unfortunately for him, he seemed to suffer greatly by the impressions of others towards his work. His negativity further bolstered itself, when during its premiere, on goers audaciously protested, citing it as his most uninteresting work. Such claims reprocessed throughout Europe and into the United States where the symphony became increasingly unpopular, particularly when the premiere of Dvorak’s 9th gathered such public approval. Tchaikovsky was devastated by the “slap-in-the-face” public reaction, but in a twist of events, he eventually came to a mutual appreciation with his symphony, stating "[…] I have started to love it again; my earlier judgment was undeservedly harsh..."

Attributing to its sudden declination at the time was believed by Tchaikovsky to be the over ambiguity of the work, citing it’s over colouring, complication and excessive construction. Yet, while this may be true, his 6th is far more complicating to listen towards, so really the actual reason is still hidden. Like his 4th, the symphony begins magnificently major, and initiates the audience’s attention through the introduction of the main theme. This theme is one of his most well absorbed, even to this day, no doubt why either. Listening to it is like stepping into to world of the romantic era, and getting covered in its zest.

While at the time, his symphony gathered a love-hate following, some later years (44 in fact) that the slim public approval finally out-weighed the negativity. During World War II, his 5th was ordered by Leningrad’s city officials to be played by the city's own Radio Symphony Orchestra in an effort to keep the peace within the population’s preoccupied fear of being overrun by the horrific German siege. Despite, heavy bombing, the story goes that the orchestra never let up during the second movement. One can just imagine the fear, but also the predominant overpowering pride in sitting through such an event, particularly when the music from “Andante cantabile” is so glorious to endure, with its horn solo and further allusions to the 4th symphony’s darker idea stream. The product of this pivotal performance was countless others, in a similar effort to preoccupy the minds of public affected by the War.

This in turn is what makes his 5th so fascinating. Not only is it inspiring to witness, it is also amazing from the shear brilliance of the orchestration. Where others have seemingly failed at appropriate voicing of the instruments, Tchaikovsky succeeds. From the brilliant motifs in “Andante - Allegro” to the final superb outfit “Finale,” and more physically inclined “Valse,” the music gracefully stands on both feet, despite it’s sometimes held-back and uncertain approach. Naturally, for the classical novice, this symphony certainly isn’t marketplace material, yet for someone willing to listen, appreciate and reflect, this symphony is certainly his best effort in the genre, even though for years it held him back emotionally. Ironically, “fate” is what the symphony was subtitled by; perhaps he endured his own particular fate.



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user ratings (43)
Chart.
4.3
superb


Comments:Add a Comment 
taylormemer
June 26th 2008


4962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This and Dvorák's 9th are in a league of their own and should be considered classics, whether you enjoy the music of not.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
June 27th 2008


4947 Comments


you know what's really annoying? Not the fact you are reviewing classical music but the fact that you can't add a picture of the artist or SOMETHING to represent the album

Sorry if I sound harsh, but yes, add some artwork to the albums you've reviewed

fireaboveicebelow
June 27th 2008


6832 Comments


lol listen to isitluck, add a picture
pretty cool review, I've been meaning to listen to this dude for a while now.

taylormemer
June 27th 2008


4962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well, considering that most of my recordings are from a particular label, couldn't my addition of a picture be considered as reviewing that particular recording? I am never going to review a recording, only the music. Because I am reviewing the music, not the recording, this has absolutely nothing to do with the artwork. For a fact, some of my reviews come solely from my own personal practice, such as Glass' Metamorphosis Suite. Placing an image is contentious in that if my review were to be negatively placed, this could be seen, or interpreted by site visitors to be an interpretation of the recording which it is not, and therefore a false accusation.



But let's assume I do add a picture from the particular label for all my reviews, couldn't that be seen as a form of silent endorsement? If so, I'm not going to do it, especially if that violates any sort of site policies. You see, artists, have a different form of agreements to record labels, as opposed to classical recordings, which are separate of artistic royalties, except if that composer is alive and well today, such as Philip Glass, who is signed with CBS I believe.

rasputin
June 27th 2008


14968 Comments


Why don't you just upload a picture of the composer himself? I'm not sure if that breaches any sputnik rules, but it seems logical.

taylormemer
June 27th 2008


4962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I was thinking that, but then you'd have the same image over and over. Indeed, this is probably the best solution. But I don't want to annoy any moderators.

I've tried to engage this in conversation over at the forums but haven't received much response, at least in terms of the problems I have faced.





IsItLuck?
Emeritus
June 27th 2008


4947 Comments


you can add album art without 'annoying moderators' if you upload it yourself by editing your review.

rasputin
June 27th 2008


14968 Comments


Maybe try one more time, just ask in the sputnikmusic mod thread whether a plain picture of the said composer would be in line with rules and such. I'll admit that the absence of a picture is aesthetically very unpleasing to me.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
June 27th 2008


4947 Comments


it makes me not want to read the review tbqh

taylormemer
June 27th 2008


4962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I know how do it. What I meant was, that if they were to see an album list with the same image over and over - may just turn a few heads in the wrong direction.

Look, I'll upload a composer's image which is in the public domain. Sound fair?

rasputin
June 27th 2008


14968 Comments


Nah don't worry yourself, I think it would be better than having no picture at all. By the way, your review is fantastic. I really enjoy reading your reviews, they're both articulate and easy to read.

JumpTheF**kUp
June 27th 2008


2722 Comments


Ryan, you're being a douche.

joshuatree
Emeritus
June 27th 2008


3741 Comments


ouch

Serpento
June 27th 2008


2351 Comments


good review, I do love the bits of Tchaikovsky that I've been given over time.

thread-wise, here's what I'm getting from this situation: luck's pointlessly voicing the fact that the addition of art makes the review seem subconsciously credible (which it does,) then getting a similarly pointless rant about how it's "commercialized, misrepresented, and endorsed" by adding said picture.

foreverendeared
June 27th 2008


14677 Comments


you spelled the name wrong! it's Pyotr not Pytor!

Serpento
June 27th 2008


2351 Comments


except it's anglicized as Pytor so it's phonetically Peter.

taylormemer
June 27th 2008


4962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Serpento - How am I ranting about something which is completely true. And since when does the artwork make the review anymore credible. There goes a saying, never judge a book by its cover, or have some of us forgotten this?

forever - I don't know how I could have been so stupid.! How could I have missed that, many times in fact. I got too used to spelling his name the wrong way (how it sounded) Thank you for pointing this out to me. I need to fix his name anyway, with the inclusive Il'yich.



foreverendeared
June 27th 2008


14677 Comments


except it's anglicized as Pytor so it's phonetically Peter.

you can't just change his name and say it's anglicized. if you do that you should call it a nickname and put that in quotes, but you still retain his first name

Serpento
June 27th 2008


2351 Comments


sorry, i just assumed it was right from an album my friend has that reads it as Pytor. you're right, it's Pyotr.

foreverendeared
June 27th 2008


14677 Comments


it's cool. i just thought it was really interesting that no one caught this before



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