Something different in the works today, which debuted in May of the blissful spring of 1913 We gonna get our “art” music on.
Igor Stranvinsky – The Rite of Spring
Listen to it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Igor+Stravinsky+Rite+Of+Spring/67058600
Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rite_of_Spring#Premiere
I do highly suggest reading at least a little about this piece, for quick facts I can tell you this was music to accompany a ballet and
The première involved one of the most famous classical music riots in history. The intensely rhythmic score and primitive scenario and choreography shocked the audience that was accustomed to the elegant conventions of classical ballet.
The evening’s program began with another Stravinsky piece entitled “Les Sylphides.” This was followed by, “The Rite of Spring”. The complex music and violent dance steps depicting fertility rites first drew catcalls and whistles from the crowd. At the start, some members of the audience began to boo loudly. There were loud arguments in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work. These were soon followed by shouts and fistfights in the aisles. The unrest in the audience eventually degenerated into a riot. The Paris police arrived by intermission, but they restored only limited order. Chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance. Stravinsky had called for a bassoon to play higher in its range than anyone else had ever done. Fellow composer Camille Saint-Saëns famously stormed out of the première allegedly infuriated over the misuse of the bassoon in the ballet’s opening bars (though Stravinsky later said “I do not know who invented the story that he was present at, but soon walked out of, the première.” ). Stravinsky ran backstage, where Diaghilev was turning the lights on and off in an attempt to try to calm the audience.
With art music the conductor and the orchestra can make a lot of difference…unfortunately with grooveshark’s labeling system I have had an nearly impossible time giving credit to these performers….I did do an extensive search to find performances from the same group and the “best” one I could find.
|Igor Stravinsky – Rite of Spring
Least favorite track/tracks:
Overall (1-5 stars): 4
|Igor Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring: 3 stars…if I have to give a rating
Precon: A lot of stuff that’s gonna go over my head, but if I was a music major I might jimp. I was hoping it would at least sound nice, but the more I read about it, the more it seems like a boundary pushing type thing so that’s probably out the window. Oh well, let’s see how it goes.
Favorite Track: Augurs of Spring
This is pretty cinematic, which makes sense. For Augurs of Spring I’m seeing a scary factory scene in an old cartoon. Or maybe a Hitchcock movie.
Magic the Gathering Card: Rites of Spring
|Igor Stravinsky: Rite Of Spring
Preconceived Notions: Classical. Heard of him. Haven’t heard this. Not super excited about it, but since I don’t want to appear as if I’ve been raised by wolves, I should focus my attention. I’d probably rather be watching the ballet.
Well, after reading the Wikipedia, it turns out I MUST have heard at least part of it because it’s featured in Fantasia…one of my least favorite movies ever.
I hear a lot of what would eventually become “bastardized” parts of Spielberg soundtracks, so clearly an influence on John Williams. Oh and also a bunch of sound a-like moments to West Side Story, so clearly Bernstein was a fan too. I think Bernstein would have been a huge fan of the oboe’s role in this work. I’m guessing Bernard Hermann was also a fan.
After Listening: I appreciate that each sequence tells a distinct story. I can’t stand when classical pieces just flow together with no clear break. I suppose this is also mostly due to the fact that this was a ballet, and well, you need to tell a story, more often than not, for a ballet to work. It’s an emotionally evocative piece for sure, and, slightly on the dark side, if I’m just going by how I felt listening to it. There’s something ominous about the bass drum and frightening about the combination of trumpets and high-pitched strings. It’s interesting that we’re listening to this work now, days after I’ve seen John Carter because I feel like they’re hampered by the same issue. Both this and Burroughs work are technically “originals”. Or as original as any art influenced by other art/artists can be. And yet, because we’re so much farther along the pop culture scale, I’ve already seen West Side Story, heard Jaws and Star Wars a million times and so, also, cannot help but making the comparison. It’s impossible for me to say whether one of these things is better or more of an artistic accomplishment because they’re kind of intertwined. I’m at least glad to be aware of the originals now. And pleased that I didn’t get as lost in the story as I thought I might. However, if I dream of tutued hippopotami tonight, I’m definitely blaming Igor. On a side note, reading his bio on Wikipedia, I got the same feeling I had when I saw Midnight In Paris. That guy lived a charmed life.
No least or favorite tracks, since, if you take one away I’m pretty sure the whole thing suffers. Also, like I said, they all made me feel something, imagine something, so that has to count in the positive column for this.
|Preconceived Notions: This one is mine, I was trying to introduce the group to “classical” or more accurately in this case “art” music. I know, I know, quit rolling your eyes…I’m just trying to change it up. I had assumed everyone here has at least heard pieces by Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and the like – so there was no need to rehash that. Likewise Wagner, Schubert, Chopin, and even Debussy are highly stylized in their own rights – but similar enough to what I think RC’s general exposure to art music has been. I picked Stravinksy for this little experiment for two reasons 1.) He’s a good transitional composer between highly tonal works (like Beethoven on through the impressionists) and the more atonal guys I like to listen to in the 20th century (Schonberg, Ives, Bartok, etc…), and 2.) because there’s a chance this particular group might identify the beginnings of the modern film score in Stravinsky’s work.
After Listening: We can get into the awesome polyrhythmic devices here, but not in any detail that is really worth going on and on about- if you don’t have that frame of reference. And honestly, I’m worried already that people hear terms like that and think I’m trying to lecture or take on an air of pompousness. I’m not, to describe what’s at the core of this work however, you will have to take a measure of analysis beyond chords and melody lines though. And to avoid writing a novel no one will care about the basic construction of this piece, it is built around the idea that little segments of musical notes are cut up and blasted at you (and then at each other in interplay) in various places in the musical arrangement (for example the infamous oboe opening), while the rest of the supporting orchestra remains very harmonically stagnant. The stagnation creates an unease in the listener who wants the piece to revert to some type of tonal resolution (aka something that sounds “final” or “completed”). For example if you listen to sections like Sacre 1.2 Augurs of Spring you should hear the origins of the theme from Jaws. In other sections of increased tempo Stranvinsky presents some consonant harmonic backing- but it serves to present the segment as frantic – Sacre 1.5 for example has sections that are very reminiscent of Star Wars films. What I’m getting at here is that Stravinsky used a multitude of musical devices to evoke powerful emotions, so much so that many of our contemporary film composers owe him a huge debt for breaking ground with pieces like this. Again a full scale (pun intended) musical analysis of this has been done and done again by people far more qualified in the field than me and my fading concepts of theory…so I’ll stop about here.
Overall 5.0 It is sort of pointless to break out these sections to rate one over the other, as a whole they were part of an accompanying ballet and presented in audio form only may also be challenging to the listener enough, without parting them out. This is to say, that this music is so vivid and evocative that the ballet or other visual medium (aka the parts of this used in Disney’s Fantasia) helps frame the work for many in a context that’s relatable. We’ve done a lot of concept albums in record club – some with a literal story, some with just the grain of a unifying theme…and to that end “art” music really is the 1st and ultimate concept music. When Stravinksy presented these musical ideas a 100 years ago there were riots in the aisles, nowadays they are employed as soundtracks to popular films. And while one is certainly free to dislike The Rite of Spring, it’s a very good lesson in transitional artists and the evolution of musical ideas. I mean, I dream of the day we as culture toss on a Schonberg composition…and riot over a Bruno Mars show. That’s probably never gonna happen…but ya gotta keep fighting the fight- and if you need marching music for that fight….The Rite of Spring isn’t a bad place to start.
Extra Credit: The composer himself conducts a piece of Firebird – (which is generally considered a more mature work than Rite of Spring)