Here is a little something to offer tranquility in a mad world: the 'June' Barcarolle from Tchaikovsky's piano cycle The Seasons. Sviatoslav Richter is the pianist. Wonderful for a lazy afternoon punting down the river in the sun [warning to my niece: not until after your exams!].
Why don't more pianists play The Seasons? Twelve gorgeous slivers of vintage Tchaikovsky - yet the only time I've encountered them in the flesh, so to speak, has been for the occasional ABRSM exam and, er, in ballet class. Technically there aren't many high-jumps or sprint marathons involved, which could explain it...too many performers prefer virtuosity. This is for those who'd rather cut straight the poetry beneath.
Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.
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