In the nest of dancers, choreographers, artists and musicians nurtured by Serge Diaghilev, Stravinsky was like a self-immolating phoenix.
Throughout his life Stravinsky would achieve peaks of brilliance and burn the musical world down in doing so, and then move on, leaving it all behind.
The 1913 ballet The Rite of Spring was one of the first and most brilliant iterations of that cycle. It had competing rhythms layered on top of one another; a complete re-invention of what constitutes a melody; different keys played simultaneously to create shocking dissonances; and a plethora of sound effects never heard before from an orchestra.
The ballet describes an imaginary pagan rite in a prehistoric Russian springtime. The human inhabitants of this pagan world gather to celebrate the renewal of life. The ballet’s first section ends with a dance of the tribe’s young people, The Adoration of the Earth. In the second part a girl becomes the Chosen One who must dance herself to death in order to placate the spirits of Nature.
Recorded in Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington by RNZ Concert
Producer & Engineer: Darryl Stack