ABOUT THE REPERTOIRE: Fairytales and Myths
Fairytales and myths have inspired composers from time immemorial, and audiences, too, have invariably been enthralled by the unending struggle between good and evil. Central to the Vienna Philharmonic's 2017 Summer Night Concert are German, French, Russian and Czech fairytales as well as a contemporary fantasy figure that is Anglo-Saxon in origin. Dvorak's three-part set of overtures, Nature, Life and Love, dates from 1891. With its virtuoso furiant opening, the central panel, Carnival, leads us straight to the heart of the carnival celebrations, with their frenzy of pleasure on the part of all human society. Following his return from America, Dvorak struck out in a new direction with his two late - and very different - operas Rusalka and Armida. Apart from Smetana's The Bartered Bride, Rusalka - described by its composer as a "lyric fairytale" - is the only opera from the time of Czech nationalism in music to have established itself in the international
repertory. It combines the early Romantic tale of Undine with symbolist imagery from fin-de-siecle Europe. Out of love for her Prince, the water nymph Rusalka has assumed human form, but in order to be able to acquire a soul she is required to forgo her voice and has to meet her lover in silence.
In the case of Armida, Dvorak fell back on a classic of operatic history that was already distinctly anachronistic by the start of the 20th century. Torquato Tasso's crusading epic La Gerusalemme liberata had first been set to music by Marco Scacchi in 1638, later inspiring versions by Lully, Handel, Vivaldi, Salieri, Haydn, Rossini and others, with the most recent setting by Franz Glaser dating from 1825. Dvorak regarded his own version at the culmination of his operatic output, and yet the work continues to lead a shadowy existence, a state of affairs due not only to the libretto's dramaturgical shortcomings but also to the long shadow cast by Wagner's Tannhauser and Parsifal, two music dramas with which Armida has a number of parallels. Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty had a triumphant first performance in St Petersburg in 1890. The libretto is based on one of the fairytales that Charles Perrault published in 1697 under the title "La Belle au bois dormant". Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty is generally seen as the quintessence of the classical ballet. The Suite op. 66a dates from 1899, six years after the composer's death. Two numbers from it are being performed at the 2017 Summer Night Concert: the Adagio and the Waltz. Sergei Rachmaninoff wrote more than eighty songs for voice and piano, almost all of which predate the Russian Revolution and the composer's subsequent departure for the United States. Three of these songs are performed here in orchestral arrangements. Twilight is based on Ivan Tkhorzhevsky's reworking of Jean-Marie Guyau's 1881 poem Lever d'etoiles: it describes a woman lost in thought, sitting at a window and contemplating the evening sky. Sing Not to Me, Beautiful Maiden (1828) is a setting of a "Georgian song"by Pushkin. Rachmaninoff was only one of at least forty other composers who have set it to music. A dynamically wide-ranging song with a pseudo-oriental atmosphere in which the agitated poet recalls an unhappy love affair in the distant Caucasus. The third poem, Spring Waters (1829-30) is by Fyodor Tyutchev. It describes the streams created by the melting snow that herald the spring and, with it, the warm days of May following the long Russian winter. Among the surprises of this year's Summer Night Concert is the fact that this is the first time that the Vienna Philharmonic has played the Prelude to Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel. The recordings under Andre Cluytens (1964) and Sir Georg Solti (1978) were not preceded by any concert performances. And when the Vienna State Opera first programmed the work in 2015, it was, of course, as the State Opera Orchestra that the players appeared. With Hedwig's Theme from John Williams's film score to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone from J. K. Rowling's series of novels, the Summer Night Concert brings the theme of myths and fairytales into the present day. The winner of five Academy Awards, Williams generally sets store by large-scale orchestrations. On his eleventh birthday, Harry is given a snowy owl - Hedwig. The bird helps him to gain access to the world of magic, but it also delivers mail, overcoming all obstacles to take his news to its intended recipients. Even at the time of its first performance by the Ballets Russes, Stravinsky's The Firebird was already a sensational success. Choreographed by Michel Fokine, the libretto is based on a Russian fairytale about a Prince who captures a Firebird in an enchanted forest. In return for its freedom the bird offers the Prince a feather that will help him in his time of need. Later the Prince falls in love with a beautiful woman who, together with her companions, is held captive by the wicked magician Kostchei. By summoning the Firebird, the Prince is able to defeat the magician and his demons.
At the 2017 Summer Night Concert the Vienna Philharmonic performs music from the 1919 Suite that Stravinsky wrote in response to the many demands that he received for concert performances of his score.
1. Dvorak - Carnival Overture, Op. 92
2. Dvorak - Armida, Op. 115, Act I: Za stihlou gazelou
3. Dvorak - Rusalka, Op. 114, Act I: Mesicku na nebi hlubokem
4. Tchaikovsky - The Sleeping Beauty, Ballet Suite, Op. 66a: II. Adagio - Pas d'action
5. Tchaikovsky - The Sleeping Beauty, Ballet Suite, Op. 66a: V. Valse
6. Rachmaninoff - 12 Romances, Op. 21, No. 3 Sumerki (Twilight)
7. Rachmaninoff - 6 Romances, Op.4, No. 4 Ne poy, krasavitsa, pri mne! (Oh, never sing to me again)
8. Rachmaninoff - 12 Romances, Op.14, No. 11 Vesenniye vody (Spring Waters)
9. Engelbert Humperdinck - Hansel und Gretel:
10. John Williams - Hedwig's Theme (From "Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone"
11. Stravinsky - L'oiseau de feu (Firebird Suite) - Ballet Suite for Orchestra: V. Danse infernale du roi Kachtchei
12. Stravinsky - L'oiseau de feu (Firebird Suite) - Ballet Suite for Orchestra: VI. Berceuse
13. Stravinsky - L'oiseau de feu (Firebird Suite) - Ballet Suite for Orchestra: VII. Finale
14. Encores to be confirmed
15. Encores to be confirmed
This is a Region 4 disc, the local region for Australia.