sparks and embers: at the fireside

as a piano student, i thought i would start a new “series” (aside from the events series i already have, because a music blog needs more than just that) that introduced the pieces of music (mostly classical) i am currently playing/working on. so, without further ado, the first piece i will be discussing, albeit briefly, is… drumroll please (unless the title already gave it away)… tchaikovsky’s january: at the fireside.

a brief history about the piece. it is the first of a set of twelve short character pieces composed for solo piano, the seasons, with each piece representing a different month of the year. throughout 1876, pieces from the set were featured in monthly instalments of the st. petersburg music magazine, nouvellist. in their publications, they were accompanied by poetic epigraphs chosen by the man who commissioned these pieces and the editor of the magazine, nikolay bernard.

the epigraph specific to january is as follows (translated to english, of course):

A little corner of peaceful bliss,
the night dressed in twilight;
the little fire is dying in the fireplace,
and the candle has burned out.
(Alexander Pushkin)

when it comes to analyzing pieces, my professors are much better at it than i am… also much more interested in it, might i add. in the simplest musical analysis known to mankind, january is in A major, 3/4 time, and in ABA form (for those who do not understand, take a listen to the video posted below).

but analysis shmenalysis, that really only matters if you’re actually, physically, in person playing the piece… and i think i’ve done my fair bit of analyzing it. i realize it isn’t quite january anymore, but in my defence, i heard it performed in november and intended to have it ready for january. but then a concerto competition took all my attention away. anyhoo, i’m working on it right now, when really, i should be working on february or even march. but january is too beautiful to give up. what first attracted me to the piece was its warmth and the homey feel to it; it honestly felt really relaxing to me and my musical heart just fell in love with it. not to mention it’s not really that difficult of a piece (though of course, every piece has its challenges), in the great schema of things. i really hope to have it ready and uploaded here soon.

taken directly off my notes, here were my initial thoughts:

  • like sparks dancing in the fire → flames
  • very inviting; contrast in dynamics & touch (I like this!)*

grab a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate; sit by the fire (if available to you); take a listen.
what thoughts and feelings does the music ignite? leave a comment.

that’s all for now.