On Valentine's Day, everything is at least a little bit about love. Stravinsky's dance piece Jeu de cartes, depicting a game of poker, immediately brings to mind the suit of hearts, or the saying "lucky at cards, unlucky in love”. The composer's Violin Concerto, which can hardly be described as such, will give us a chance to witness a unique relationship, because as a critic from The Irish Times put it, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, the soloist for the evening, "makes her instrument sing, weep, dance, cajole, [and] flirt.” Closing the concert will be the Rite of Spring which in addition to showing human sacrifice, will also shed light on primeval "courtship” customs.
"In this ballet, the characters are the high cards in the deck in a battle that takes place on a green gaming table. With each hand, the situation is complicated by the endless subterfuge of the cheating Joker, who believes himself unbeatable because of his ability to become any card he likes.” So begins Stravinsky's description of this abstract work comprising a number of brief dance movements. The final twist in Jeu de cartes is also very effective - in the end it turns out that the Joke...r can be defeated after all, or as Iván Fischer puts it, "It is possible to rebel against card sharps." As for the finale of the Violin Concerto, Stravinsky's biographer Robert Craft termed it one of the most exciting endings the composer ever wrote. Stravinsky, however, was far from certain that his piece would be a success. As his mastery of the instrument's properties was inadequate, he only took on the commission under the condition that Samuel Dushkin, the violinist for whom the piece was intended, would be available for consultation throughout the composition process. All the movements start with the same chord, which Stravinsky first jotted down on a napkin.
The concert will conclude with one of the most important pieces from Stravinsky's Russian period, ballet music that is considered unique even within the context of his own oeuvre. The composer made the first sketches for The Rite of Spring, a piece with massive orchestral sounds, at the end of 1910 in a tiny Swiss cottage with only a single upright piano to work from. Sergei Diaghilev, who commissioned the music, immediately knew that it would provoke heated reactions from audiences. This piece presenting an ancient pagan rite - the sacrifice of a virgin in order to assure the arrival of spring - was greeted from the first moment by a storm of tomatoes, eggs and whistles. By a year later, however, the unusual asymmetric rhythms, the dissonant sounds and the wild, barefoot dancers had already become a great success.
Presented by: Budapest Festival Orchestra
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Refreshments – Without the Queue
Thanks to our new catering service at the Átrium Snack Bar, you can forget about waiting in line during intermissions for some refreshments and get your order prepped especially for you by the time the intermission actually starts. Find out more about pre-ordering here.
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