Ravel greatly admired Schubert’s collection of Valses Nobles and Valses Sentimentales, inspiring him to write his own cycle of eight solo piano waltzes which he later orchestrated – each a sparkling jewel. His “choreographic poem” La Valse, however, is a dizzying parody of every aspect of the waltz idiom. Unable to control the wild inertia of its own energy, the piece tears itself apart from within. According to Saint-Saëns himself, the Piano Concerto No.5 was a musical representation of a sea voyage and its wide range of musical motifs do certainly evoke exotic ports of call. Written in Luxor whilst on holiday, it quotes a Nubian love song he heard a Nile boatman sing. Its carefree attitude and delicate orchestral accompaniment is a tantalizing glimpse of the bold, new musical landscape of the French Impressionists that was to follow. Tchaikovsky songs and piano pieces are transformed with considerable affection, wit, and imagination in Stravinsky’s charming suite.
2023/24 BSO@Home Subscription18 livestreams for just £160 online concerts from October to May
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