Tchaikovsky – Souvenir de Florence (Janine Jansen & Friends)

Dutch violinist and violist Janine Jansen & Friends play Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s String Sextet in D minor “Souvenir de Florence”, Op. 70, a string sextet scored for 2 violins, 2 violas, and 2 cellos. Internationaal Kamermuziek Festival (International Chamber Music Festival), Utrecht.

Janine Jansen, violin
Vilde Frang, violin
Lawrence Power, viola
Julian Rachlin, viola
Nicolas Altstaedt, cello
Jens Peter Maintz, cello

Over the course of a number of years, Janine Jansen’s International Chamber Music Festival has developed into a true musical feast. ‘Boundless energy, infectious enthusiasm and a rock-solid violinistic talent. Janine Jansen is the most versatile violin diva of the Netherlands. For the seventh time a musical whirlwind takes Utrecht by storm under her direction’, wrote the NRC Handelsblad last year. During the five-day festival, music will be performed in Utrecht’s finest locations, for connoisseurs, devotees and curious newcomers alike. Let yourself be surprised by Janine and her musician friends – all active at the forefront of the international music scene – her overwhelming enthusiasm and her conviction that chamber music is the most wonderful form of music-making in existence. In any case, Janine experiences the festival as ‘one great adrenalin kick’, as she once declared in an interview.

The work was composed in the European summer of 1890 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky dedicated the work to the St. Petersburg Chamber Music Society in response to his becoming an Honorary Member. The work, in the traditional four-movement form, was titled “Souvenir de Florence” because the composer sketched one of the work’s principal themes while visiting Florence, Italy, where he composed The Queen of Spades. The work was revised between December 1891 and January 1892, before being premiered in 1892.

There are four movements:

  1. Allegro con spirito (D minor)
  2. Adagio cantabile e con moto (D major)
  3. Allegretto moderato (A minor)
  4. Allegro con brio e vivace (D minor)

The first movement is in sonata form and, without introduction, presents a rather violent yet melodic first theme in D minor. The second theme, in the dominant major key of A major, is much calmer; it flows from the first theme almost effortlessly and then proceeds into the development and recapitulation, which concludes with a quick coda.

The slow movement, in D major, has a very innocent, romantic theme initially stated by the first violin with pizzicato accompaniment before being taken up by the cello. Following interruption by an interlude for all of the instruments, the theme returns for a repeat of the first section.

The last two movements, with their distinctly Russian and folk-like melodies and rhythms, greatly contrast with the previous ones.

Sources

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