The traditional cuts in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto include nearly half of a developmental passage in the first movement and a series of shorter cuts in the finale. The first-movement cut comes after the second tutti, a triumphant thematic culmination that rings false on two levels, since it is a "polonaise" in 4/4, and since there has been no first tutti. The developmental passage that follows seems to confirm Tchaikovsky's self-confessed weakness in handling large-scale forms, but may arguably constitute an "anti-development" that sets up a mincing violin variation, which, in falling between two versions of the orchestral tutti and rescuing the larger group from its developmental ineptitude, models a homosexuality closeted within the aristocracy (this structural grouping reappears in the original slow movement). The various instances of "passing" in this movement (the faux polonaise, the "second tutti," the "anti-development," and a gradually emergent octatonic element in the violin climax just before these events) relate to Tchaikovsky's own "passing" dilemma, both as a homosexual and as a Russian nationalist working within Germanic forms; his specific treatment reflects the fact that the concerto was composed between his disastrous marriage and his later affiliation with the imperial court. A particular marker for Tchaikovsky's musical "passing" is the blended octatonic passage in the main theme of the finale——which, however, forms the core of the series of traditional cuts in that movement.
Passing——and Failing——in Late-Nineteenth-Century Russia; or Why We Should Care about the Cuts in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto
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Raymond Knapp; Passing——and Failing——in Late-Nineteenth-Century Russia; or Why We Should Care about the Cuts in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. 19th-Century Music 1 March 2003; 26 (3): 195–234. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ncm.2003.26.3.195
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