Four members of the Philharmonia Orchestra play Tchaikovsky’s delightful First String Quartet in this free early evening concert.
Tchaikovsky only wrote three complete string quartets. Astonishingly the first was written in just a few weeks, when he realised he needed more material for a concert of his chamber music at the Moscow Conservatory. It’s a richly rewarding listen.
The second movement, marked Andante cantabile (singing), is a tender re-working of a Ukrainian folk song – the story goes that Tchaikovsky heard a housepainter whistling the melody. It soon became an audience favourite, and not just with any old audience – after one memorable Moscow performance Tchaikovsky wrote in his diary “Never in my life have I felt so flattered and proud of my creative ability as when Leo Tolstoy, sitting next to me, heard my andante with tears coursing down his cheeks.”