Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, 1840-1893
The music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ranks among the most popular and beloved in the classical tradition. Known primarily for his orchestral and ballet music (as well as two favorite operas), he possessed a brilliant gift for winning lyricism, passionate expressivity, brilliant color and a blend of classic European sensibility with an unmistakable Russian character. Hardly a formalist, Tchaikovsky’s music seems to flow from instinct and inspiration that follows its own natural shape without worrying about precise classical schematics. All these traits characterize his small but quite worthy oeuvre for chamber music comprising three string quartets, a string sextet (Souvenir de Florence) and the epic Piano Trio in A minor. A truly one-of-a-kind work, the piano trio occupies its own unique niche apart from the standard repertoire of 19th century European trios. With its thick, rich textures, wonderful melodies, effulgent emotionality and novel form, it is perfectly characteristic of the composer, exactly what we would want Tchaikovsky to compose.