The Seasons

P. Tchaikovsky

The Seasons

Orchestration by Sergei Abir

            Tchaikovsky’s Seasons, op. 37-bis (1875-76) is a set of piano pieces that could also be titled Twelve Months, where each month is a special mood to which the Nature subjects our emotional world. From the cozy comfort in the warmth, with an eye to the snowstorm outside – to rampant motoric labor in the July heat; from the exciting spring longing – to robust ritual of hunting. The pieces, like live tableaux, paint scenes typical of nature or human activity as a part of yearly cycle. Regardless of the image and the mood, however, each of them excites and entails – this is Tchaikovsky.

Like some other piano pieces by Tchaikovsky, these are perceived by many as a workpiece, or maybe as a draft of a would-be orchestral score. Tchaikovsky’s nature of music thinking was a vibrant wealth of timbres that made his orchestral sound live and breathing. Anyone who cannot resist the temptation to orchestrate this opus, hears it differently. Different are also approaches to the text and to what is regarded as sacred and inviolable. Some believe piano original to be an untouchable source; I see it as an orchestral potential. As in poetic translations, I prefer the ones where images capture the spirit to those with literal meaning of words. My goal was to make The Seasons sound not as piano transferred to the orchestra, but as a rediscovered, a hitherto unknown symphonic score by Tchaikovsky of his late period.  Symphonic interpretation of these twelve calendar pictures inflates and expands their space, turning them into scenes on the imagined theatre stage. Hence the present suite can be subtitled: Symphonic scenes.

Sergei Abir, 2011

You can read the related interview by Muzykalnoe Obozrenie here


Four pieces, September, October, November and December had their world premiere with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under its chief conductor maestro Vasily Petrenko, at the concert opening the 175th season of RLPO and marking 175th Tchaikovsky’s anniversary. The program “Songs from Distant Lands” (presented on 1, 2 (Preston) and 4 October has been covered by the BBC Radio 3).



…Petrenko taking the Phil through a bustling, brassy fanfare September, October’s sweet, romantic lament, a frolicking troika of a November and a fairytale waltz to end the year.

Unexpectedly smashing stuff.

Liverpool Echo


Tchaikovsky’s Seasons are best known as piano miniatures, commissioned as twelve monthly instalments for a St Petersburg journal. Tonight’s format was a world première of orchestrations of the final four months of the year by Israel-based Russian Sergei Abir, who did a superb job of capturing and expounding the microclimate of each month. September (The Hunt) was all brassy fanfares and pomp, followed by the dark, velvety textures Petrenko found in October’s Autumn Song. November’s Troika and Christmas in December zipped along festively without straying into the saccharine. The set of four movements gelled successfully as a whole and I will look forward to hearing Abir orchestrations again.

Rohan Shotton (


… with each piece representing a month of the year Abir provided attractive orchestrations of September, October, November and December. In the four pieces the mood of Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker was never far away especially noticeable in November: Troïka with its jingling sleigh-bells and the agreeable salon waltz December: Christmas.

Michael Cookson (Seen and Heard International)


Tchaikovsky’s hunt scene was playful, whimsical almost. There were big brass sounds here, too… More wistful clarinet playing characterised the “Autumn Song”, which collapsed into a charming cello solo as the piece drew to a close. The “Troika” felt really rather staid and never seemed to take off, though there was a lively episode in the middle section of the piece. And then that waltz – laid back, relaxed, but perfectly homely and rather comforting. Glyn Môn Hughes (The Arts Desk)




Flute 1

Flute 2 (Piccolo)

Oboe 1

Oboe 2 (Engl. Horn in F)

Clarinet 1 A, B flat

Clarinet 2  A, B flat (Bass Clarinet in B flat)

Bassoon 1-2

Horn in F 1-4

Trumpet in B flat 1-2

Trombone 1-3



Percussion 1-3: Glockenspiel/Triangle/Tambourin/Snare Drum/Bass Drum/Cymbals/

Celesta, Harp, Strings



January 4’40”

February 2’50”

March 2′

April 2’40”

May 3’40”

June 4’45”

July 2′

August 3’50”

September 2’45”

October 4′

November 3′

December 4’20”

MP3 demo in Finale format in the arranger’s interpretation is available.


The score can be purchased and the parts can be rented from the VeDiScore Publishing.


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