Stravinsky x 6
Igor Stravinsky at the RSB
Igor Stravinsky was asked whether he was thinking of Greece when he composed the ballet Apollon Musagète for string orchestra in 1928. “No,” he replied, “I was thinking of strings.” Alas Stravinsky, master provocateur, proves this imagery to be but a romantic-naive illusion. “A composer improvises aimlessly the way an animal grubs about. Both of them go grubbing about because they yield to a compulsion to seek things out. […] What is important for the lucid ordering of the work for its crystallization is that all the Dionysian elements which set the imagination of the artist in motion and make the life-sap rise must be properly subjugated before they intoxicate us, and must finally be made to submit to the law: Apollo demands it.”
“I have no time to hurry.” (Igor Stravinsky)
A total of six concerts in the consecutive cycle, are dedicated to the music of the Russian cosmopolitan who was not bound to any one place, having lived in Russia, France, Switzerland and the USA. Within the music he conceived, he found his home – not as a high priest of his art, but as an honest tradesman who understood the act of composition as a craft, for whom making music meant, in the literal sense of the word, orderly production, rather than aimless philosophising. For Stravinsky, the old laws of musical order applied incontrovertibly: tension, analogy, contrast, repetition. This radical approach, the theory of “l’art pour l’art”, explains the apparent courage he had to summon up to attempt the moral, aesthetic and stylistic balancing act between such an unabashedly raw, pagan spectacle as the “Rite of Spring” and such a religiously intimate composition as the “Symphony of Psalms”. The true art lies in controlled extasy!
“The more art is controlled, limited and worked, the freer it is.” (Igor Stravinsky)
And all the more fascinating, one might add, in view of Igor Stravinsky’s incomparably vibrant works.