Tchaikovsky's masterpiece with the "fate" theme

Gstaad Festival Orchestra

Jaap van Zweden, conductor


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64


Recorded on August 19, 2017 at the Festival Tent Gstaad

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony was composed during a last surge of creative energy following a number of years marked by doubts: artistic, romantic, financial… First performed in St. Petersburg on 17 November 1888, the Fifth Symphony one of the most popular of all symphonies among audiences. It is a work in which Tchaikovsky succeeded in bridging the fragile gap between his Russian roots and the Western tradition in which he was trained. It is the only of his six sym- phonies to employ a cyclical theme that appears in each of the four movements and symbolizes “providence”. Tchaikovsky made reference to it in his first sketches, writing: “Introduction: Total submission before fate, or, what is the same thing, the inscrutable designs of Providence. Allegro: I. Murmurs, doubts, laments, reproaches against… II. Shall I cast myself into the embrace of faith? A wonderful programme, if only it can be fulfilled.”

Mission accomplished, with special mention of the elegant waltz that is the third movement. And a nod to its rich history: The Fifth Symphony was chosen by the Symphonic Orchestra of Radio Leningrad while the city was under siege by the German army to be broadcast live to the BBC in London on 21 October 1941 as a sign of courage for its citizens… who had to wait some 900 days before finally winning back their freedom!

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