Orchestral Suites and Serenade
Tchaikovsky wrote four orchestral suites in the period between his Fourth and Fifth Symphonies. The first three are original music, while the fourth, subtitled Mozartiana, consists of arrangements of music by Mozart. According to Dutch musicologist Francis Maes, Tchaikovsky valued the freedom the suites gave him to experiment and saw them as a genre for unrestricted musical fantasy. To this Russian musicologist and critic Daniel Zhitomirsky agrees and adds that through them, the composer solved a number of challenges in orchestral tonality, thematic development and form. Wiley comments that they contain music in a number of styles—scholarly counterpoint, salon style, folk music, bizarre scherzos, character pieces—in an overall vein that Russians call prelest', which means "charming" or "pleasing".
- Orchestral Suite No. 1 in D minor, Op. 43 (1878–1879)
- Orchestral Suite No. 2 in C major, Op. 53 (1883)
- Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G major, Op. 55 (1884)
- Orchestral Suite No. 4 in G major "Mozartiana", Op. 61 (1887)
In addition to the above suites, Tchaikovsky made a short sketch for a Suite in 1889 or 1890, which was not subsequently developed.
Tchaikovsky himself arranged the suite from the ballet The Nutcracker. He also considered making suites from his two other ballets, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty. He ended up not doing so, but after his death, others compiled and published suites from these ballets.
Like Capriccio Italien, the Serenade for Strings was inspired by Tchaikovsky's time in Italy and shares that work's relaxed buoyancy and melodic richenss. The first movement, "Pezzo in forma di Sonatina" ("In the form of a sonatina"), was an homage to Mozart. It shares some formal features with that composer's Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro but otherwise emulates his music only in wit and lightness, not in style.