On Friday evening we heard an electrifying centennial performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring at the Philharmonic Hall with Vasily Petrenko conducting. At the close, the reception for Petrenko and the Philharmonic Orchestra was rapturous. There was no riot.
The programme had been billed as identical to the one in which the Rite had its infamous first performance in Paris on 29 May 1913. The orchestra began with de Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat (although de Falla didn’t complete his ballet until 1919 – it was actually Les Sylphides they heard that night in Paris). De Falla’s sultry, stamping Spanish rhythms was
followed by the shimmering woodwinds and harps of Debussy’s Prélude à l’apres-midi d’un faune, and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances in a performance that rivalled the Rite for sheer power and excitement. The entire Philharmonic Choir had been marshalled for this 10-minute appearance, and with Petrenko directing the mass ranks of the choir…
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