A Grand Pas de Deux

The rain’s lashing down outside so instead of going out I thought I’d indulge myself with a bit of musical entertainment. This piece is the Grand Pas de Deux from a seasonal Christmas favourite, the ballet The Nutcracker, by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Op. 71). It reminds of an occasion, almost twenty years ago, when I had the chance to go to a concert at the Berliner Philharmonie. This was such a long time ago that I’ve forgotten which visiting orchestra was playing, although I do remember that it was Russian and extremely good. The main programme consisted of Stravinsky (Petrushka Suite) and Shostakovich (Symphony No. 10) but at the end they did this as an encore. In performances of the ballet this piece is usually taken quite slowly to accommodate the dancers but, as is more often the case in concert performances, this time the orchestra took it at a brisk pace and with so much passion and colour it was like I was hearing it for the very first time. People can be snobbish about Tchaikovsky because he’s “too popular”. Well, this is a popular piece for one reason and one reason only: it’s beautiful.

2 Responses to “A Grand Pas de Deux”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Tchaikovsky himself was snobbish about his most popular piece, the 1812 Overture. I like it more than he did!

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      I once met a British Army bandsman whose military band played it in an overseas country, and asked their hosts – the local armed forces – to provide gunfire at the appropriate point. Instead of cannon the locals loosed off machine guns into the air, and half of the band were unable to resume playing for laughing.

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