Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons was first published in 1876 in instalments in Nuvellist, a Russian cultural journal. The pieces are a far cry from the spectacular brand of pianism found in the concertos and were intended to be within the reach of the talented amateur, though from time to time Tchaikovsky forgets himself – leaping into life in the ‘Carnival’ of February or the August ‘Harvest’.
The young Siberian-born but internationally trained pianist Pavel Kolesnikov, winner of the 2012 Honens piano competition, has an innate understanding of the poetry of this music, and conveys it with a rapturous range of tone. He’s equally persuasive in the more extrovert numbers – though July could be more unabashedly rustic. Sometimes his pacing seems a little slow (March, or in the outer sections of May), though again shaping of melodic lines is always a delight.
It’s amazing that Tchaikovsky’s Six morceaux aren’t better known. In Kolesnikov’s hands the scherzo-ish No.2, with its balletic faster sections, has real airiness, while the best-known of them, the soulful Nocturne, strikes the right note of plaintiveness without sentimentality. The highly characterful Theme and Variations ends the set with a flourish. Bravo to Hyperion for giving this highly gifted musician a break: watch this space.