Swedish violinist Daniel Lozakovich is the soloist in Ernest Chausson’s Poème and Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane. Chief Conductor Klaus Mäkelä conducts a spectacular programme, featuring Ravel’s tribute to Vienna La valse, Igor Stravinsky’s tribute to Tchaikovsky The Fairy’s Kiss and Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Metacosmos, which depicts falling into a black hole.
Igor Stravinsky composed the ballet music for The Fairy’s Kiss in 1928, and the production premiered in Paris that same year. The story is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Ice-Maiden, and the music is a tribute to Pyotr Tchaikovsky on the 35th anniversary of his death. Stravinsky selected a number of melodies from Tchaikovsky’s songs and piano pieces that had not previously been orchestrated. The ballet production lives on in the orchestral version Divertimento from 1934.
The French composer Ernest Chausson (1855–1899) was a close friend of the Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe, the great virtuoso of his time. In the 1890s, Ysaÿe asked Chausson to write him a violin concerto, but Chausson found the commission far too overwhelming. Instead, he wrote Poème, a shorter work for violin and orchestra. The piece proved to be Chausson’s first major success in his home city of Paris when Ysaÿe played it there in 1897.
As early as 1906, Maurice Ravel (1875–1937) planned to compose a grand tribute to the waltz, and the work was given the working title Wien (Vienna). Ravel finally breathed life into his idea in 1919 and 1920 after the Great War, and La valse does have indisputably dark undertones. Many perceived the piece not just as a tribute but also as a description of the collapse of the golden age of the waltz and of the society around it. However, Ravel denied that the music had any deeper symbolic meaning.
In 1922, Maurice Ravel met the Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi, the grandniece of the legendary violinist Joseph Joachim, during a tour in London. She entertained the composer long into the night with folk tunes from her homeland, and Ravel was so enthused that he wrote a brilliant violin rhapsody for her. It was entitled Tzigane, and d’Arányi gave it its first performance in London in 1924. The original version was for violin and piano, and Ravel orchestrated the piano part later the same year.
Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s (born 1977) music has been performed by the Berlin and New York Philharmonics and a number of other orchestras all around the world. She has been described as “one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music”, with a “seemingly boundless textural imagination”. Her 2018 orchestral work Metacosmos is based on speculations of what it would be like to fall into a black hole, into the totally unknown.
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