Stravinsky, The Firebird, Kirov Orchestra, V. Gergiev
In fact, The Firebird should probably be considered the more ground-shaking work, the first score that the 28-year-old Stravinsky composed for the Ballets Russes, the opening salvo in the Battle of Modernism. Heard here in its entirety, just as it was performed in 1910 (well, not quite sure -- the 1910 score calls for a third harp in the Firebird's music, and I cannot recall if there were two or three harps on stage), this revolutionary music simply dazzled the ears. Stravinsky wrote for a vast orchestra, one that in his later neoclassical austerity he found to be "wastefully large," and he did startling things with it. The combination of sounds that make up the flitting Firebird's music, the lunatic dance of crazy percussion for Katschei's retinue enchanted by the Firebird, the shimmering violins for the thirteen princesses, the rosy colors for the arrival of daybreak, the clanging metal and offstage brass for the Magic Carillon, the menacing swells of sound for the Monster Guardians, the plaintive viola solo for the supplications of the captured Firebird, the moody bassoon of the Lullaby -- it is all so vivid. Gergiev and his musicians drove through this magnificent score with authority and deliberate, even fastidious attention to detail. The only thing missing was a reconstruction of the original choreography, without which the piece comes only partially to life (to get an idea, watch this reconstruction on YouTube).
Anne Midgette, Gergiev, Mariinsky bring urbane virtuosity to all-Stravinsky evening (Washington Post, October 16)
Philip Kennicott, Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra (PhilipKennicott.com, October 16)
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, Another ‘Spring,’ and Another Storm to Weather (New York Times, October 11)
The next WPAS concert is a recital by pianist Yuja Wang at Strathmore (October 25, 8 pm).
We do not cover politics here at Ionarts, but I was a little surprised that there were no protests against Gergiev's ties to Vladimir Putin and Russia's anti-homosexual law, either inside or outside the hall.