A double slice of genius today with my favourite modern Classical composer Igor Stravinsky and the incredible talents of Chinese concert pianist Yuja Wang.
Stravinsky always made complete sense to me, I never thought of it as disjointed or discordant. It may be why Progessive Rock never sounded complex to me as a listener, it might be complex to learn, to play and to remember but after Stravinsky, Yes sound like Status Quo.
A lot of people may have heard of his most famous works, The Firebird Suite (1910), my favourite, Petrushka (1911) and The Rite Of Spring (1913). These three innovative ballets were commissioned by legendary Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev, the latter splitting opinion and causing uproar in the audience at the premiere.
Petrushka is set in 1830 at the Shrovetide fair. Three puppets are brought to life and engage in a drama of love and jealousy. The picture included is Stravinsky with famous Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. Nijinsky played Petrushka and was one of the star dancers in Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
If you haven’t experienced the works of Stravinsky, turn off all modern apparatus that distract and listen uninterrupted, it could just change your life. Perhaps a good place to start is with the incredible Yuja Wang’s piano interpretation of Petrushka. It’s also worth watching the interviews with her here and smile as you connect her personality to her level of skill, talent and pure memory ability.
Wherever you stand with Classical music, remember that like Pop music, there’s all different kinds to choose from. Don’t be afraid to dig into the Classical world, find what you like, one thing leads to another and before long you will be selling your Coldplay tickets and attending Yuja Wang recitals.
The staging of Petrushka below is by The Bolshoi ballet (1990). Here they are dancing to the orchestrated version – a masterpiece of composition, dramatic crescendos and unforgettable musical artistry.