Classics Explained: STRAVINSKY - The Rite of Spring

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Classics Explained: STRAVINSKY - The Rite of Spring



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2 hours 34 minutes


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Classics Explained: STRAVINSKY - The Rite of Spring

An exploration of Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring narrated by Jeremy Siepmann

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Jeremy Siepmann: Classics Explained: STRAVINSKY - The Rite of Spring (Siepmann)

Introduction, background and perspective

A gentle, other-worldly start; no sign of the violence to come

Music as mosaic; the composer as constructor

Two functions of metrical change: going with the flow...

...or disrupting it: a sample of metrical violence

A stealthy entry (clarinets)

Detour: the destabilising properties of chromaticism

On melodies, themes and motifs

The new cor anglais motif dominates

The oboe's rhythmic motif takes over

A primeval awakening

A panoply of Stravinskyan birdsong

A matter of mode

Cue to Introduction

Introduction (complete)

Part I: The Adoration of the Earth: The Augurs of Spring / Dances of the Young Girls: The 'Rite of Spring' chord

Part I: The Adoration of the Earth: The Augurs of Spring / Dances of the Young Girls

The great arrival: bitonality

Putting the boot in: a metrical mugging

The prevalence of ostinatos, and a righting of wrongs

Metre restores (briefly) but the 'savage motif' returns

The musical savages routed

An important new arrival (the 'horn motif')

Another new theme from the horns

A crowded conclusion

Part I: The Adoration of the Earth: Ritual of Abduction

A real study in contrasts

Panic and pandemonium as timpani open fire

Climactic melee haunted by 'fear motif'

Part I: The Adoration of the Earth: Spring Rounds

Suddenly another world, as flutes hover over harmonic vapour...

...but a transient one: new movement arises from the deep

'Dragging feet motif' over ostinato violins, twice interrupted

'Marching motif' developed further by flutes and horns

A trilling commentary from piccolo and high clarinet

'Marching motif' theme goes polymetric in huge crescendo

An unexpected change of pace as tempo doubles

And an unexpected reversion, to a quiet close

Part I: The Adoration of the Earth: Ritual of the Rival Tribes

Violent onslaught from brass and timpani launches the 'Rival Tribes'

Rival Tribes, rival motifs

Sensational violence comes close to chaos

Effects, impressions and alteration

A surprise re-entry and a change of instrumental clothing

A thinning of texture, a new idea, and a rude interruption

The new idea developed: a minor earthquake

The use of tone colour as an agent of rhythm

An unusual climax...

...and a sinister transition

Part I: The Adoration of the Earth: Procession of the Sage

Across the threshold into an instrumental population explosion

A sudden silence and then another world

Catapulted into the 'Dance of the Earth'

Part I: The Adoration of the Earth: Dance of the Earth

Tiny changes, unyielding ostinatos, massive tension

Cue to Part I complete

Part I (complete)

Part II: The Sacrifice: Introduction

Again a muted, subtly coloured start

Tone colour as atmosphere - the strings' motif

Four solo violas, above gently rocking strings

A pregnant pause, and a new motif in muted trumpets

Part II: The Sacrifice: Mystic Circles of the Young Girls

Motif from the Introduction varied and extended

New motif, heralded by clarinets and violins, is introduced by alto flute

Variant of Motif No. 2 given out by two clarinets

Continued by oboes and bassoons; new motif in violins, cellos and bass clarinet

Main motifs yield to new idea from flutes

All change - direction, tone colour, metre - and two new ostinatos

Motif No. 1 returns in horn, then passed to flutes and strings

Texture, balance and tone colour keep changing

Instrumental enrichment, new counterpoint and a bleat of alarm

New derivative of Motif No. 2, a host of new sounds - and again the bleat

Into the finishing stretch, and we know we're in for something big

Putting the movement back together again

Mystic Circles of the Young Girls (complete)

Part II: The Sacrifice: Glorification of the Chosen One

On into one of the most sensational movements ever written

The violence is almost graphic. An example of musical terrorism

Motif No. 2: a terrible, off-beat com-pah from strings, horns and oboes

The air is filled with the fearsome baying of wind and violins

A variant of Motif No. 2, but now descending

A study in the bruality of suspense - a musical mugging

The middle section begins with a massive but unequal confrontation

Against the odds, the 'descending motif' comes out on top

In the midst of the fray, a new 'rising motif' emerges...

...and undergoes a typcially Stravinskyan expansion and compression

A much-needed breath before the movement entire

Glorification of the Chosen One (complete)

Part II: The Sacrifice: Evocation of the Ancestors

The next movement consists of a single, chordal motif, three times varied

The second statement: breaking the metrical flow

Part II: The Sacrifice: Ritual Action of the Ancestors

At last the establishment of a clear and steady beat, but will it last?

A counterpoint of ostinatos lends continuity to changing time signatures

Horns introduce the first real motif, destabilised by multiple metres

The motif disappears, though the background ostinato continues

A change of mood, then the whole orchestra crashes in

The steady pulse gives way to a tossed salad of one-bar motifs

Lately abandoned, the steady pulse returns, as does the 'trumpet motif'

The movement ends with a varied reprise of the opening

Evocation of the Ancestors (complete) and Ritual Action of the Ancestors (complete)

Part II: The Sacrifice: Sacrificial Dance

The last movement is based on two motifs, the first most motable for its rhythm

The second motif is likewise predominatly rhythmical in effect

Two variants: one a rhythmic simplification, the other an expansion

A new section, again with two main motifs, the first from wind and strings

This is joined by another bried but very striking motif from muted brass

Tension dramatically increased by a violent interruption from timpani and gong

Motif No. 2 is passed from bassoons to high wind and trumpets...

...and is twice interrupted by horns

Motif No. 1 erupts in full orchestra, then all hell breaks loose

New ostinato, over implacable repetitions of Motif No. 1, offset by clarinets

A new section, kick-started by percussion: timpani, bass drum and gong

Horns, doubled by strings, introduce the main idea of this new section

The return of the movement's opening section - or so we may think

Dramatic compression of now-familiar material

A terrifying cocktail of motifs old and new confounds expectations...

...and leads to the coda, the final flourish of the whole work

Cue to all of Part II and end of CD

Part II (complete)

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