Notes & Reviews:
The Places - Our visit starts in St Petersburg, with its palaces and gardens and strange white nights by the River Neva. It continues with scenes of life in Moscow, Red Square, the Kremlin, monasteries and the Bolshoy Theatre. There is a final homage to the poet Pushkin, with portraits and memorabilia from Ukraine and from Russia.
The Music - Tchaikovsky completed his Fifth Symphony in 1888, and regarded it with his usual critical diffidence. "Having played my symphony twice in St Petersburg and once in Prague, I have decided it is a failure. There is something repellent in it, some over-exaggerated color, some insincerity of invention, which the public instinctively recognizes", he wrote, in a letter to his patroness Nadezhda von Meck. It nevertheless achieved considerable success, eventually winning Tchaikovsky's own approval, and has remained a popular element in Russian symphonic repertoire ever since. His Marche Slave of 1876 reflects patriotic Russian feelings at a time of Balkan conflict with Turkey.
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