For millennia, the exotic, mysterious East—an undefinable mixture of Arabia, India, Africa, and the Far East—has inspired incredible works of European art. This evening's concert explores the musical fascination with all things "oriental", a fashion that held particular sway over late 19th and early 20th century composers. The program opens with Carl Nielsen's Aladdin Suite, a work composed in 1918 as incidental music to a theatrical production, and later reworked into an immensely popular orchestral suite. We then travel into the world of the legendary storyteller Scheherazade, immortalized by Ravel in an orchestral overture that in 1904 became a song cycle for soprano (or tenor) and orchestra. Strauss's one act opera Salome draws its inspiration from the biblical world of the evil King Herod and his twisted stepdaughter Salome, who dances the "Dance of the Seven Veils" in a seductive plea for St. John's head on a platter. The evening's musical journey draws to a close with Stravinsky's legendary orchestral suite from his magical Firebird Ballet, premiered in the 1910 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, with choreography by Michel Fokine. The story is drawn in part from the Russian folktale about an enchanted fiery bird from a faraway land that can bless or doom its captor.
Described by conductor Marc Minkowski qs “One of the most important voices of our time … Definitely a major artist of the French school,” the young French mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa gives voice to Scheherazade in this evening's concert. A native of Montpelier, her shimmering singing has graced stages the world over.
Photo: Marianne Crebassa and Tugan Sokhiev © Patrice Nin
Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Gulbenkian Choir