Skip to content

Tchaikovsky and Marche Slave

November 20, 2011

Different symphony conductors bring their own unique experiences and histories to the music they conduct. Depending on the meaning they get from the score and how they internalize the music, the same music can often sound very different when performed by different symphonies led by different conductors. The dynamics of the piece, the style, the rhythms can all vary depending on what the conductor’s view is and what s/he hears.

It took me awhile to get this and to understand why I was enjoying some pieces and not others, and why the same music sometimes sounded “different” when the musicians were all playing the same notes and using the same instruments. This isn’t anything I figured out on my own, someone told me about it, and once they did, the knowledge opened up a new type of Classical music listening experience for me.

The first Classical music composer I experienced was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. As a child, I would listen to my parents’ albums and that was when I discovered the composer and his 1812 Overture. I stayed with just that one piece for a long time but gradually I started listening to more of Tchaikovsky’s music and I found I enjoyed it all, even the slow stuff, partly I connected to the emotion in his music and partly because I liked the power in the “fast parts” of his music. This, in turn, led me to listen to other Russian composers which then led me on to other composers.

None of that is really important beyond being sort of a long introduction to this.

A while back I bought this three-CD box set collection of Tchaikovsky compositions from by Mikhail Pletnev conducting the Russian National Orchestra. On disc two is a version of Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slave (Slavonic March) which is unlike anything I had ever heard before. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s true. I don’t know why the piece sounds different – and better – to me. My untrained ear tells me that it’s because it’s a little bit faster, but I know there’s more. Maybe because it’s the Russian National Orchestra led by a native-born conductor? I don’t know, but I do know that while all the selections included in the box set are really good, this particular version of Marche Slave is stellar. The only reason I think to write about it now is because I was looking for it on youtube and was happy to find it there and I’m happy to share it here. If you listen to it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 


And just for fun:

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 25, 2011 5:24 pm

    When I was a kid, (back when Mom’s spent hours ironing clothes), she would listen to this type of music. Brings back good memories Michael.
    p.s. She also would listen to opera and sing along. She did have a beautiful voice but we hated it!


If you leave me a comment I'll give you a cookie!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: