Symphony No. 3 in D Major, Op. 29 ‘Polish’/Tchaikovsky

February 16, 2011


There are three unique things about his Third Symphony. It was the only one of the six symphonies that he chose to write in a major key and the name given to it ‘Polish’ has nothing to do with Poland and their music in the least. With the dance structure one could easily say that this is a ‘Mozartean’ structured one. A more appropriate name would have been ‘German’ as one can hear plenty of it. It was given the name ‘Polish’ from the finale’s Tempo di Polacca marking after his death. What is somewhat ironic about that is the Russian Royal Court used it as an imperialistic style dance making it highly nationalistic in nature. Written in 1875 it has not gone through major revisions. Tchaikovsky seemed to like it and left it alone. It was the only symphony that had five movements with the extra movement fitting into the work quite nicely.


An ominous extended note begins the first movement which quickly moves into an allegro with one of Tchaikovsky’s proud majestic themes. Over the course of 15 minutes it is given time to fully develop with all orchestral sections contributing. The allegro moderato of the second movement is a woodwind driven melody with the flute clarinet, bassoon, and flute playing a part. The third movement, a slow waltz with the solos from the bassoon and then the horn are a very moving part of the symphony. The scherzo, given the adjective ghostlike by Richard Taruskin, is quite appropriate. The finale is a rousing upbeat dance used by the court as previously discussed. One can hear the influence that Mozart had on Tchaikovsky in the middle section of this 5th movement. It has a frantic conclusion.


The recording was done originally on the Philips label in 1965 as Igor Marketvitch (1912-1983) did the complete cycle of the six Tchaikovsky symphonies in the sixties. His set was the standard by many as the list of available recordings was considerable during that era. Reissued in the 90’s as part of the duo budget series from Philips it was a tremendous bargain as one could obtain three symphonies for the cost of one premium CD. This set continues the tradition of offering fine readings at a reasonable amount ($20-30 price range). The Ukrainian composer/conductor is right at home with this symphony and seems comfortable performing it.


Track Listing:

1…. Introduzione e Allergo                                15:18

2….Alla tedesca (Allegro moderato)                   5:50

3….Andante elegiac                                          11:43

4….Scherzo (Allegro vivo)                                  5:38

5….Finale (Allegro con fuoco:Tempo di Polacca) 8:21


Total Time is 46:50


Newton classics #NC8802036








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