The suite consists of five movements, for an orchestra of wind instruments in wood and brass, percussions, accordions, instruments of the quartet and a harp. The audacity of harmonies and tones is growing throughout the suite.
After an almost classical introduction (first movement), the next two are a waltz and a burlesque scherzo, burlesque meaning here that it is from folk inspiration. With the fourth movement entitled Rêves d'enfant (in French), the tempo slows for introducing harmonic melodies that anticipate the polyphonic music. The fifth movement titled Danse baroque is extremely fast (vivacissimo), on the model of the Cossack dance by Dargomyzhsky.
Tchaikovsky threw his first ideas on provisional drafts, abundantly reworked, which he gave or destroyed when the work was close to its final version. On May 28 in London, Sotheby's sells the working manuscript of movements 1, 4 and 5 of the orchestral suite No. 2, lot 303 estimated £ 250K.
Interestingly, the manuscripts of the movements 4 and 5 are mingled. The unconventional dreamlike lullaby of the fourth movement and the wild dance of the fifth movement are thus inseparable. They jointly announce the end of classical music.