Grade 8

Tchaikovsky - Juin: Barcarolle (No. 6 from Les saisons, Op. 37b)

Les saisons (The Seasons) is a collection of 12 pieces published in 1876, each piece bearing the title of a month of the year inspired by an epigram from a Russian poet. The epigram for Juin: Barcarolle is worth keeping in mind as we study the piece: “Let us go to the shore; there the waves will kiss our feet. With mysterious sadness the stars will shine down on us”.

A barcarolle is a song of the Venetian gondoliers. We feel the movement of the gondola moving through the water in the LH, the RH melody line needs a flexible approach to rhythm to make it sound like a song (avoid playing the quavers with metronomic evenness). The pedalling requires some thought and experimentation, especially in the middle section. On no account change the pedal in the diminished seventh chords in bars 50 - 51, but allow the sound to build up in this spot. It will be helpful to listen to Mendelssohn’s 5 examples (Venetian Gondola Songs) as well as Chopin’s late masterpiece, the Barcarolle in F# major, op. 60.

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Resources & links

  • This piece is available for digital download individually from the ABRSM shop here or in print as part of the Piano Exam Pieces 2023 & 2024 Grade 8 publication here.
  • Click here to view open domain editions for this work.

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