Side by Side

Concert Dates

Side by Side 02/12/2015 8:00 PM
Wednesday, December 2, 2015 - 8:00pm

Program

Tchaikovsky: Waltz from Eugene Onegin
Notes Tchaikovsky: Polonaise from Eugene Onegin
Close

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Kamsko-Votkinsk, Russia on May 7, 1840 and died in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 6, 1893. He composed the Polonaise from Eugene Onegin from 1877-78. It runs approximately 4 minutes in performance and is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, and orchestral strings.

The stately Polonaise was surely one of Poland’s most widespread cultural exports throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Originating as a sung folk dance with simple rhythms and melodies, it was taken up by the Polish nobility in the 17th century, then popularized throughout much of Europe in the 18th, evolving into a more sophisticated instrumental dance for grand society events. Composers including Bach, Couperin, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and, of course, Chopin, supplied examples of its increasingly elaborate development as an attractive instrumental dance form. It had special currency in Russia, where a choral Polonaise was used as an anthem in the later 18th century. Tchaikovsky’s interest in this French-named Polish product, then, was hardly unique. However, he did seem to have had Polonaises on the brain, so to speak, in the latter part of 1877. That summer he had two large-scale works on his desk, his Fourth Symphony and an opera, and he put Polonaises into both.

While Tchaikovsky-as-symphonist is represented on this programme, the brief and splendid Polonaise from his 1878 Eugene Onegin is an import to the symphonic repertoire, exhibiting the composer’s twin preoccupations with stage genres, the opera and the ballet. As such, it encapsulates a rich array of dramatic allusions. Act 3 of Tchaikovsky’s best-known opera opens with this Polonaise, at the height of a scintillating fancy-dress ball, which the world-weary Onegin attends on his return from a long sojourn abroad. The celebrated beauty he meets there, the Princess Gremina, turns out to be none other than Tatyana, whose impulsive declaration of young love he had coolly spurned years before. A classic yet moving dramatic reversal plays out in his recognition of his passion for her, and her refusal, despite the confession of love Onegin compels from her, to leave her husband. But the grandeur and panache of the Polonaise in concert garb conveys little of the irony and poignancy of this scene, wherein the magnificence of the dance—once a simpler form itself—so elegantly encapsulates the distance between the naïve girl Tatyana and the sophisticated society woman she has become.

Performers

Venue

Roy Thomson Hall

60 Simcoe St
Toronto, ON
M5J 2H5

Side by Side 03/12/2015 2:00 PM
Thursday, December 3, 2015 - 2:00pm

Program

Tchaikovsky: Waltz from Eugene Onegin
Notes Tchaikovsky: Polonaise from Eugene Onegin
Close

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Kamsko-Votkinsk, Russia on May 7, 1840 and died in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 6, 1893. He composed the Polonaise from Eugene Onegin from 1877-78. It runs approximately 4 minutes in performance and is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, and orchestral strings.

The stately Polonaise was surely one of Poland’s most widespread cultural exports throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Originating as a sung folk dance with simple rhythms and melodies, it was taken up by the Polish nobility in the 17th century, then popularized throughout much of Europe in the 18th, evolving into a more sophisticated instrumental dance for grand society events. Composers including Bach, Couperin, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and, of course, Chopin, supplied examples of its increasingly elaborate development as an attractive instrumental dance form. It had special currency in Russia, where a choral Polonaise was used as an anthem in the later 18th century. Tchaikovsky’s interest in this French-named Polish product, then, was hardly unique. However, he did seem to have had Polonaises on the brain, so to speak, in the latter part of 1877. That summer he had two large-scale works on his desk, his Fourth Symphony and an opera, and he put Polonaises into both.

While Tchaikovsky-as-symphonist is represented on this programme, the brief and splendid Polonaise from his 1878 Eugene Onegin is an import to the symphonic repertoire, exhibiting the composer’s twin preoccupations with stage genres, the opera and the ballet. As such, it encapsulates a rich array of dramatic allusions. Act 3 of Tchaikovsky’s best-known opera opens with this Polonaise, at the height of a scintillating fancy-dress ball, which the world-weary Onegin attends on his return from a long sojourn abroad. The celebrated beauty he meets there, the Princess Gremina, turns out to be none other than Tatyana, whose impulsive declaration of young love he had coolly spurned years before. A classic yet moving dramatic reversal plays out in his recognition of his passion for her, and her refusal, despite the confession of love Onegin compels from her, to leave her husband. But the grandeur and panache of the Polonaise in concert garb conveys little of the irony and poignancy of this scene, wherein the magnificence of the dance—once a simpler form itself—so elegantly encapsulates the distance between the naïve girl Tatyana and the sophisticated society woman she has become.

Performers

Venue

Roy Thomson Hall

60 Simcoe St
Toronto, ON
M5J 2H5

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