conducted by David A. Fanning
Composed in 1880 (the same year as the famous "1812 Overture"), Tchaikovsky's Serenade was an immediate popular success, and remained one of his personal favorites. It is one of the most popular Romantic scores for string orchestra.
Tchaikovsky described the opening movement (Pezzo in forma di sonatina) as "...my homage to Mozart; it is intended to be an imitation of his style." The opening passage is reminiscent of the slow introductions to a few of Mozart's symphonies, but the middle section of the work is set in one of the lighest of Classical forms, the sonatina: a sonata form with very little in the way of development. The Waltz (Moderato) is lilting and graceful, spinning out two lovely themes, and occasionally slowing to hold the highest note in a phrase for moment before continuing its forward motion. The Elegy (Largo elegiaco) is also in a very simple form. The beginning is a emotional passage for the entire orchestra, which gives way to a more agitated section (Poco più animato). The opening music returns at the end, and is expanded in a brief coda.
The Finale (Tema Russo) is the most nationalistic of the Serenade's movements. For the opening passage (Andante), Tchaikovsky borrows a folk tune from the Volga region, passing it from the upper strings to the lower. The main theme of the movement, marked Allegro con spirito, is a popular dance tune from Moscow, and this is pitted against a more songlike melody of distinctively Russian character. Tchaikovsky skillfully weaves these themes together until the very end, when he brings back the very opening music of the first movement. After this reminiscence, the tempo quickens gradually for a lively coda.