Friday, March 27, 2015

TCHAIKOVSKY - Symphony no6 (Pathetique) - Herbert von Karajan & Wiener Phil

Karajan is perfect for a symphony of this kind and this is a great performance. When I was a kid I used to skip over the 2nd movement. It sounded trite to me. Now it's my favorite part--I consider it the heart of the symphony. Mark Twain once said everyone is a moon, and we all have a dark side which we never to show to anyone. Tchaikovsky shows his dark side here.

The 2nd movement starts simply enough--it suggests a masked ball under full moonlight. Everyone is happy and enjoying the evening. Tchaikovsky pretends to be happy, too. He wears a mask of happiness as he dances and pretends to enjoy the frivolous conversations. He knows how to be the life of the party. But around the 22:00 mark, his mask is torn away. We see his dark side. We hear the unvarnished truth--his life is unbearably painful. Underneath the mask there is a tremendous and desperate despair. Life is futile and utterly hopeless. He is alone.

Then he puts his mask back on and resumes the marionette dance. Only a Russian can distill such pain into great beauty and Tchaikovsky does it here.

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