Stephen Waarts & Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula: I. Stravinsky – The Firebird, Prelude and Dance of the princesses
@ Casals Forum
„Ich verabscheue die Musik als Weltanschauung und rate, die Musik um ihrer selbst willen zu lieben und nicht der Gefühle wegen, die sie im Hörer hervorruft.“ – Igor Strawinsky
In the garden of the Russian magician Kastschej there is a tree with golden fruits. The young prince Iwan Zarewitsch manages to catch the firebird on this miracle tree. The bird, however, asks for its freedom and promises the prince to help him in any emergency, when the prince agrees to actually release it. In case of danger, a feather of the firebird shall help the prince to summon it.
This is how parts of the plot of The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky could be summarized in a few sentences. It is natural that none of Stravinsky's ballets can be adequately described in such a short way. Even in his first ballet, which was important for his international breakthrough at the age of 27, Stravinksy already creates tonal complexity and a colorful tonal language in which timbre and rhythm are musically central.
The story of the Firebird is composed of two Russian folk tales, and Stravinsky's music also shows various influences: on the one hand, he was inspired by old Russian folk melodies, on the other hand, modern music - in part impressionistic - already sounds through. Stephen Waarts and Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula also greatly appreciate this colorful sound language. At the same time, they knowingly take on the challenge of transposing a work that shines through the richness of sound of a large orchestra to a much more intimate setting on violin and piano. But even in this arrangement, a kaleidoscope of different moods emerges within a few moments - a quality that both musicians greatly appreciate in the tonal language of the firebird.
© Andreas Malkmus