Symphonic Poem Fatum, Op. 77/Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

June 23, 2011

Written early on in his career (1868) it was given its inaugural performance by Nikolai Rubenstein the following year and turned out to be a dismal failure as Balakirev was highly critical of the work. Tchaikovsky as a result destroyed the manuscript which was reconstructed from original parts by R.R. Shoring and published by Belyayev in 1896 three years after his death. The tone poem begins with a very solemn and stoic theme quite Russian. The second theme begins with the woodwinds slowly moving forward with the harp and lower register strings. This is all introduction as the string section enters with the same theme but quite lush, romantic, and very much Tchaikovsky. A third theme somewhat agitated in conflict with the romantic melody is introduced which quickly becomes the opening theme and the struggle begins. As the tension subsides there is a brief return to the romantic theme until it somewhat ends as it began.

Father time has caught up with Gauk Historical recording done sometime between 1944 and1961. You’ll hear some movement in the orchestra as it was a live recording as well as a somewhat shrilly mono recording. If you click on the following links of Gauk and Jarvi it you’ll be able to hear the difference. Gauk Fatum  Jarvi Fatum

I enjoy the playing and the slower pace but don’t care for the noise at all. The Chandos recording (9587) with Jarvi and the Detroit Symphony has the advantage of being an all digital one clean and crisp but it is four minutes quicker 14:33 compared to 18:56 to the Gauk recording performed by the Grand Symphony Orchestra, one I know nothing about. It is almost like listening to two different works!

I like this lesser known work and if you like Tchaikovsky like I do you’ll enjoy it too.



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