Few twentieth-century compositions can claim to be as popular as The Rite of Spring (1913). Written for Sergei Diaghilev’s groundbreaking Ballet Russes, its first performance famously caused a riot. Boulez’s own interpretation of the piece, recorded in 1969, is generally considered amongst the very best. Stravinsky’s orchestration is vivid, with an unprecedented percussive force that overflows with the energy of ecstatic motion. Alternatively depicting a beauteous scene of revitalised nature and startling pagan rituals, its final movement – in which a chosen girl must dance to death – is amongst the most terrifying in all music.
The Rite is sandwiched between Boulez’s Livre pour cordes (1968) and Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna (1974-5). The first is both an orchestration and a reimagining of an earlier string quartet. Shimmering fragments move about in what can seem like complete chaos, never settling into stasis; the overall effect is of mystical, ghostly beauty. Rituel, composed in tribute to fellow composer Maderna, calls for eight separate groups of musicians to be scattered around the hall. Each plays around a percussionist playing at a different tempo, giving the piece a complex rhythmic structure. The same musical ideas are repeated yet transformed, giving the impression of remembering the same man from different perspectives. There is nothing else in music quite like it.
|What||Boulez at 90: LSO and Peter Eötvös|
|Where||Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Barbican (underground)|
On 23 Apr 15, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Barbican’s website|