Brilliant Classics

Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young Op.39, 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op.40

Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young Op.39, 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op.40
Composer Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Artist Yuan Sheng piano
Format 1 CD
Cat. number PCL10245
EAN code 5029365102452
Release May 2022

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About this release

Tchaikovsky the Romantic miniaturist from a distinguished Chinese pianist, renowned for his Bach and Chopin.
While we associate Tchaikovsky with music of virtuoso power and difficulty, sweeping up audiences with the fire of the Violin Concerto and First Piano Concerto, he also applied himself to music for the ever-growing market of amateur music-makers during his lifetime. Like many other great composers, he knew how to write for musicians of moderate ability without compromising or simplifying the individuality of his voice as a composer.

Also like many great composers, regularly finding himself in grim financial prospects, he tapped into a reliable source of income by supplying publishers who had a seemingly limitless market for music composed with amateur musicians in mind, especially by the acknowledged masters of their day. Both of the cycles recorded here by Yuan Sheng were produced for this market, comprising short pieces, most of them quite simple on the page, but thoroughly imbued with quintessentially Tchaikovskian qualities.
As part of his Piano Classics discography, Yuan Sheng recorded The Seasons – Tchaikovsky’s best known solo piano cycle – in 2017. The album was widely welcomed for its serious approach to music which is too often treated trivially. Likewise, he invests these cycles with an authentic delicacy of touch and gravity of expression – in Tchaikovsky, tears are never very far away.

Tchaikovsky’s Children’s Album Op. 39, is a collection of twenty-four pieces for children studying the piano. Inspired by Schumann’s Album for the Young Op. 68, these pieces are musically satisfying with imaginative titles and settings. The set contains a number of character pieces using a great variety of moods and scenes. The pieces are based on themes with familiar places and sounds, narrative elements, and international musical styles. Character pieces, short works that reference something non-musical such as a person or a place, were quite popular in the Romantic period and made excellent pedagogical works, inspired by familiar places and sounds that children would be acquainted with at this time and still today.
Tchaikovsky’s 12 Pieces, Op. 40 are a set of works he composed between February – April 1878, immediately before he began work on his Children’s Album, Op. 39. The works contain a variety of moods and dances of moderate difficulty, providing a much-needed distraction for Tchaikovsky from the large-scale works he was producing at the same time (the violin concerto and the Grande Sonata for piano). They contain two mazurkas, two waltzes, a Danse Russe, a scherzo, chanson triste, Song without Words and a fiercely difficult Etude: all vintage Tchaikovsky in melodious charm and clever wit, relatively unknown and a valuable addition to the repertoire.
Chinese pianist Yuan Sheng is particularly known as one of the foremost Bach players of today (he is recording the complete Bach keyboard works for Piano Classics), yet he has an amazingly wide repertoire. His 3-CD set with major Chopin works (Complete Ballades, Preludes, Nocturnes and Impromptus, PCL0049) played on historical instruments made a big impact and received excellent reviews.

Listening

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: I. Morning Prayer
  2. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: II. Winter Morning
  3. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: III. Playing Hobby-Horses
  4. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: IV. Mama
  5. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: V. March of the Wooden Soldiers
  6. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: VI. The Sick Doll
  7. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: VII. The Doll's Funeral
  8. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: VIII. Waltz
  9. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: IX. The New Doll
  10. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: X. The Harmonica Player
  11. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XI. Mazurka
  12. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XII. Russian Song
  13. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XIII. Kamarinskaya
  14. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XIV. Polka
  15. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XV. Italian Song
  16. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XVI. Old French Song
  17. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XVII. German Song
  18. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XVIII. Neapolitan Song
  19. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XIX. Nanny's Story
  20. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XX. The Old Witch
  21. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XXI. Sweet Dreams
  22. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XXII. Lark Song
  23. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XXIII. The Organ-Grinder Sings
  24. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Album for the Young, Op. 39: XXIV. In Church
  25. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op. 40: I. Etude
  26. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op. 40: II. Chanson triste
  27. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op. 40: III. Marche funèbre
  28. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op. 40: IV. Mazurka
  29. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op. 40: V. Mazurka
  30. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op. 40: VI. Chant sans paroles
  31. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op. 40: VII. Au village
  32. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op. 40: VIII. Valse
  33. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op. 40: IX. Valse
  34. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op. 40: X. Danse russe
  35. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op. 40: XI. Scherzo
  36. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 12 Pieces for Piano of Medium Difficulty, Op. 40: XII. Rêverie interrompue