The Pas de Deux in the Swan Lake suite

I don't like any works of Tchaikovsky so much. Too aesthetic for a listener. And too much work for an orchestral player. As an orchestral player, I have played only Nr 5 Symphony ans the Swan Lake suite. Both have not left me so good memories. Especially, the latter makes me even feel a little bit sick.

Several years ago, I was told to play as the top cellist at a local orchestra, which I took John 9V1VV for the practice in a week end. It was when we practised Nr 2 Symphony by brahms. I loved this one so much. That was the reason why I joined the orchestra. After we had played Brahms, I decided to stay at the orchestra since it was a cosy and friendly one. Then, one of the pieces it has practised was the Swan Lake. In its Grand Adagio, there is the famous the Pas de Deux of Odette and Prince Siegfried. There have not been such a beautiful and earnest theme, I think, as this solo played by the concert master. A staccato rhythm like heart beat heightens the music between violin solo. The violin solo swings fast melody in elegance. And again the rhythm in short tonging by the wind instruments comes back and beats up. All of sudden, at the height of that beats, a general pause visits the orchestra. The conductor looks intently at me. It is the moment I should start the mellow, sweet as well as manly melody. My heart almost stopped.

I always regretted taking that position as the top in the orchestra. And this music has left me a kind of posttraumatic stress syndrome.

It is still a beautiful music. Our minds are almost melted with those solo.

Listen carefully at 7 min. after the performace started.


  1. Hi Shin,

    Working offshore Dubai now...

    Tchaikovsky is one of those composers we don't admit to liking. He is often regarded as "low art" by the classical music fraternity. I put him in the same league as the Swedish pop group Abba, who everybody scorned, but nevertheless secretly hummed their tunes and inwardly loved the melodies.

    Well I have "come out" as a Tchaikovsky lover a long time ago, despite my claims that music died with JS Bach.

    I particularly love "The Sleeping Beauty" and the "6th Symmphony". As a cellist you can probably appreciate the immaculate depth of scoring for the cellos in those works. Tchaikovsky used the full power of the lower string registers in all his orchestral peices.

    It is also worth listening to his Rococo Variations which were written for solo cello and orchestra. It's a truly great work.

    He did write some absolute rubbish of course, including the "Hamlet Fantasy" and "1812" overtures. Completely over-the-top and bombastic.

    Hope all goes well.

    1. John,

      I was almost laughing to read you compare Tchaikovsky to Abba! Funny. Tchaikovsky has composed so sweet and accessible melodies like pop music as you point out. But still sometimes, but not always, fascinating. After having written this small article, the melody of Pas de deux had been ringing in my mind for a few days.

      I used to be interested in classical music in early teenage days. One of the pieces I often listened to was his 6th symphony. An unforgettable symphony in addition to the great symphony by Berlioz or the 9th by Dvorak. Beginners might take to these symphonies easily.

      Yes, cello part has great role in romantic pieces of orchestral works. I surely enjoyed the 2nd symphony by Brahms. The 5th by Tchaikovsky, which I used to play in the med school orchestra, was too tough for me those days.

      Take care. I look forward to seeing you on the air and go on discussing about the smilarity between Thaikovsky and Abba soon.