The orchestra presents the complete score of one of Stravinsky’s most popular pieces, The Firebird, which represented an international breakthrough for the 27-year-old composer when he was commissioned by the Ballet Russes to write a Russian-inflected score for a major new ballet.
An unknown who had previously arranged some Chopin pieces for the dance company, Stravinsky was impresario Diaghilev’s third and wild-card choice for the job: Rimsky-Korsakov had just died, and an arrangement with Lyadov came to nothing.
The ballet’s scenario was drawn up by a committee who included its choreographer and designer. The intention was to ride the wave of Parisian enthusiasm for Russian nationalism, and the concept was a melange of Slavic folk-tales.
Stravinsky came through with a musical triumph: a bold, modern, gorgeously orchestrated work offering engaging drama and appealing folk melodies.
The evening begins with a piece by Tilson Thomas himself performed by selected players from the orchestra. Lope is a light-hearted depiction of a dog’s daily walk, interpreting canine thrills through wind, brass and percussion.
PerformersSan Francisco Symphony
RepertoireMichael Tilson Thomas: Lope