Waltz of the Flowers
L. Ts.Azizyan Set design for the ballet "The Nutcracker" in the State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet named after S. M. Kirov Watercolor, tempera on paper Leningrad, 1980

Russian National Museum of Music
Among the countless treasures of world classical music, there are works that absolutely any music lover knows. There are melodies that seem to sound everywhere, they are put on ringtones, they are used in advertising; you may not even remember what kind of music it is, but there is no doubt that it is familiar to you.

Tchaikovsky has a lot of such melodies! One of such super popular compositions is the "Waltz of the Flowers" from the ballet "The Nutcracker".

We always associate it with the New Year, with the time of miracles, with slowly falling large flakes of white snow and shining lights of Christmas tree decorations. The Nutcracker is an extravaganza ballet, a fairy tale ballet, a holiday ballet!

The Nutcracker was the third and last ballet written by PyotrTchaikovsky. The first was the ballet "Swan Lake", and then "The Sleeping Beauty". All three are fabulous, mysterious, magical! They contain all the richness of orchestral sound, intense thematic development, previously inherent only in symphonies or operas. After all, before Tchaikovsky, ballet music was a very applied genre, "serving" the skill of dancers, and most often played only a secondary role in the performance. All three of Tchaikovsky's ballets, written from completely different artistic positions in relation to the importance of ballet music, have become incredibly loved by the audience and choreographers, and forever changed the attitude towards this musical genre. From an auxiliary element, ballet music has become the main character, enriching the plot and setting the content of the choreography.

The two-act ballet "The Nutcracker" was ordered to Tchaikovsky, who is at the zenith of his fame, in early 1891, and the premiere at the Mariinsky Theater took place on 6 December 1892. However, eight acts from the ballet, which made up the symphonic suite, were performed in one of the concerts of the Imperial Russian Musical Society in March 1892. According to Modest Tchaikovsky, "the success of the new work was great. Five acts of the suite were repeated at the unanimous demand of the public. "
P.I. Tchaikovsky "Waltz of the Flowers" from the ballet "The Nutcracker" Authorized copy of the score St. Petersburg - Maidanovo, March 1892

Russian National Museum of Music
Among the colorful divertissement miniatures of the second act of the ballet, "Waltz of the Flowers" and "Pas de deux" stand out for their monumentality. Excellent examples of Tchaikovsky's great symphonic dance! Their tremendous emotionality clearly does not fit within the plot and "overwhelms" the listener like a stormy stream. According to the content of the ballet "The Nutcracker", when the evil witchcraft was destroyed and the clumsy doll turned into a beautiful youth, the prince and Marie (in some productions it was Clara) went to the fairy kingdom. There, in the magical city of Confiturenburg, a luxurious celebration with dancing is arranged for the arriving guests. Happy Marie (Clara) and the prince sat down on the meadow, which was suddenly covered with beautiful flowers. It was then, approximately in the middle of the second act, that the enchanting music of the "Waltz of the Flowers" sounds.

The "Waltz of the Flowers" is the pinnacle of the Nutcracker's festive divertissement. The waltz begins with an introduction with a great virtuoso harp cadence. The theme is assigned to three French horns, their soft, deep sounding enchants from the very first notes. The waltz movement at the beginning is calm, measured, but throughout the play the theme is transformed into a solemn, almost ecstatic, step by step gaining the powerful energy of a festive big brilliant waltz that swirls us in a whirlwind! This is a real musical feast. Even outside the theater stage, you can clearly "see" everything that happens in the music, so visibly the waltz penetrates the mind. It is impossible not to get carried away, not to respond to the three-beat dance meter capturing the whole being of the listener, to the colorful orchestration, to the roll call of different groups of instruments, to the final passages, it is impossible not to emotionally react to the more and more accelerating pace! In the middle of the piece, the cellos have a more pathetic-lyrical, minor theme, shading the all-consuming light in D major, the main tonality. But the minor deviation is only a short episode, all the main themes of the waltz are major. And in the code, when the music shines with all the colors of a large symphony orchestra, the state of delight reaches its limit.

The "Waltz of the Flowers" also exists in arrangements for various compositions, including solo piano. The masterly transcription of the Australian pianist and composer Percy Granger is well-known; there are also simpler versions of the presentation. I had the opportunity to perform and record on disk this grandiose, magnificent piece, arranged by the young Russian pianist VyacheslavGryaznov. And I must say that there are few transpositions in my repertoire that are so difficult to perform on our instrument. If you do not make technical compromises and adhere to the orchestral tempo, then the performer is faced with extremely difficult tasks. This is not just virtuoso music; here it is required to create the same multifaceted, multi-layered texture, as is written out in the orchestral presentation, all themes and their accompaniment should not merge in sound with each other, and it is also necessary that the timbres of different instruments would be recognizable even when played on the piano. It was the most difficult work, but also rewarding - after all, the effect of this great music did not disappear even when it was performed not by a whole symphony orchestra of 120 people, but by just one pianist. And the audience rewarded this stunning music with warm applause, which invariably accompany the beloved the "Waltz of the Flowers", in whatever version and on whatever stage it may sound.
Ekaterina Mechetina

Merited Artist of the Russian Federation


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