Symphoni No.5 Op.64, No.6 Op.74

Tchaikovsky wrote all four of his orchestral suites in the period between the compostion of his Fourth (1877-1878) and Fifth (1888) Symphonies. Though none of the suites has ever attained a popularity akin to that of the symphonies, the Suite No. 2 (1883), subtitled "Caractéristique," has suffered particular neglect, likely because of its impractical requirement of four accordions in one movement. The work comprises a series of almost balletic character pieces. The main exception is the first movement, "Jeu de sons" (Game of Sounds), whose dimensions (though not its mercurial themes) suggest the opening movement of a symphony. A slow, graceful introduction evokes both the ballet stage and the opening of the composer's Variations on a Rococo Theme (1876). The atmosphere becomes increasingly dark; soon, however, it takes off in a more impulsive direction. Throughout the movement, Tchaikovsky relies on material of a "scurrying" character, calling to mind the Fourth Symphony; at one point he subjects it to fugal treatment.

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