In November 2017, my wife and I were given tickets to the Albany Symphony Orchestra by friends who couldn’t use them. Coincidentally, another couple of friends were also given tickets.
The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky was the piece played in the second half of the program. I used to play this music every vernal equinox. I fell out of the habit , but I don’t know why, as it’s one of my favorite pieces.
Andrew Appel’s review in the 20 November Times Union describes it well: “it requires that we listen to music in a way not demanded by any other work… Brutal energy, fragmented melodies, repeated rhythmical figures that are hard to define but impossible to ignore…”
Well, if you put it like THAT, no wonder The Rite of Spring incited a riot in a Paris theater premiere of the ballet in 1913.
“The tumult began not long after the ballet’s opening notes — a meandering and eerily high-pitched bassoon solo that elicited laughter and derision from many in the audience. The jeers became louder as the orchestra progressed into more cacophonous territory, with its pounding percussion and jarring rhythms escalating in tandem with the tensions inside the recently opened Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.”
As often as I listen to CDs and LPs and YouTube videos, there is something especially satisfying about hearing music in person. Even when a piece is familiar, and theoretically boring in the recording – think Ravel’s Bolero, which we also heard at the ASO a few seasons ago – it can really become vibrant in the live setting. After the performance of the Rite of Spring, conductor David Alan Miller rightly required about three-quarters of the orchestra, section by section, to take a bow.
So I loved it, my wife loved it. The guy who had gotten one of the other tickets did NOT love it, but I’m sure he did not riot.
Listen to The Rite of Spring:
BBC Proms 2013 – François-Xavier Roth conducts, after 6-minute introduction