Tchaikovsky Pezzo capriccioso

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed his Pezzo capriccioso, Op. 62, for cello and orchestra in a single week in August 1887. The work is not capricious in a lighthearted sense. The capriccioso aspect comes from Tchaikovsky's fanciful treatment of various aspects of the work's simple theme. Despite some rapid passages and a turn to the major key, he preserves the basic pulse and sober mood throughout the piece. The sobriety was a result of Tchaikovsky's sufferings with his friend Nikolay Kondratyev. Kondratyev was in the final throes of syphilis. After a brief remission, he had been taken to Aachen, Germany, where his family hoped the mineral waters there would prolong his life at least a few months. Instead, Kondratyev had taken a turn for the worse. Moreover, he proved a highly unpredictable, volatile and demanding patient, which unnerved the already death-shy Tchaikovsky. All this suffering poured through the music Tchaikovsky was writing, as well. The first performance of the Pezzo capriccioso, in its arrangement for piano accompaniment, took place on February 28, 1888, with the composer at the keyboard. The first performance of the orchestral version was given by Brandukov in Moscow at a special concert of the Russian Musical Society on November 25, 1889. Tchaikovsky conducted the orchestra.
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