Fifty years after the death of Igor Stravinsky, members of the MCO form a chamber ensemble to explore a selection of the composer's most intriguing smaller works.
At a mere forty seconds long, Fanfare for a New Theatre is a brisk call to attention for two trumpets, a taste of the composer's later years exploring the intricacies of serial composition. In a total reversal, the Octet pulls us back thirty years and into the original approach to familiar forms that marked his neoclassical period. The Concertino that follows, written only three years prior, sits on the edge, containing much of Stravinsky's former, hard-edged Russian style. Three works – showcasing the talents of the MCO's brass, strings, and winds – take in a lifetime of development in little more than half an hour of music.
Propulsive and playful, and with that same mid-century élan, Ligeti's Six Bagatelles for winds pave the way for the climax of the programme: the suite from Stravinsky's L'Histoire du soldat. A morality play with a devastating Orphic twist, L'Histoire du soldat seamlessly blends uncompromising modernism with klezmer, ragtime and folk melodies to create a twentieth century spin on the travelling troupes of old. The suite contains all of the work's musical highlights, and is conducted here by MCO cellist Philipp von Steinaecker.