Four Norwegian Moods;
Scherzo à la russe;
Symphony of Psalms;
Rite of Spring
With his use of shockingly radical and modern language, Igor Stravinsky has changed the history of music. He was provocative and brazen; smart and humorous. His constantly changing style confused his admirers and enemies alike. The BFO will paint Stravinsky’s colourful portrait through his most popular works and some rarer pieces.
The first half of the concert will feature three works that Stravinsky wrote at a time when want was the composer’s greatest muse. The Four Norwegian Moods (1944) were composed for a Hollywood movie describing the Nazi occupation of Norway. The composer never saw the film. Instead, he relied for inspiration on a collection of folksongs he found in a used bookstore – but failed to impress the producers of the movie. Compromise was not Stravinsky’s forte, so he rewrote the piece as an orchestral suite.
Scherzo à la russe (1944) was also intended as a movie score, but after this collaboration also ran aground, he turned the piece into one for a jazz group and then for a large orchestra. Unique in atmosphere, Tango – an irregular Argentinian tango – was the first work that Stravinsky, hoping for royalties, wrote entirely in the USA.
The real big guns come out in the second half of the concert. The Symphony of Psalms (1930) was written for the choir and orchestra, and dates back to Stravinsky’s neo-classicist period: he wanted to produce a work which would be “universally admired”. Exercise for the soul, it is both predictable yet mysterious, and its power lies in the harmony between the orchestra and the choir.
According to Iván Fischer, the Rite of Spring (1913) has changed the world. Its premiere turned scandalous and descended into a brawl, with the dancers and the audience unable to hear the music because of the loud jeering; the piece itself is rich in mystical rites, lethal religious ceremonies and dances of fertility and magic.