Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks - BRSO

Mariss Jansons conducts: Tchaikovsky – Stravinsky – Varèse

CD: Mariss Jansons – Tschaikowsky, Strawinsky, Varèse © BR-KLASSIK Label

The Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, conducted by its longtime chief conductor Mariss Jansons, is featured on this new CD release from BR-KLASSIK with three works by Peter I. Tchaikovsky, Igor Stravinsky and Edgar Varèse. Live recordings from 2015 (Tchaikovsky, Varèse) and 2013 (Stravinsky).

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No other couple in world literature have come to symbolise true and unconditional love more than “Romeo and Juliet”. William Shakespeare immortalised them in his famous drama and, to this day, the Veronese lovers continue to fascinate us as much as ever. The idea for a musical adaptation of the subject in the form of an overture was given to Tchaikovsky by his fellow composer Balakirev, who had himself written an overture and incidental music for Shakespeare’s King Lear shortly beforehand. Tchaikovsky dedicated his composition to him. The Fantasy Overture can be considered Tchaikovsky’s first great masterpiece, and it brought him lasting success, albeit somewhat belatedly. The premiere on March 16, 1870 in Moscow and further performances in the following years met with little response, but this was later to turn into the opposite: During his extensive travels abroad in the 1880s, Tchaikovsky could hardly conduct a concert at which the organisers did not want to include “Romeo and Juliet” on the programme. In the months following the premiere, Tchaikovsky repeatedly made changes to his Fantasy Overture and revised the slow introduction; it was in that version that the work was published in print in 1871.

To this day, the “Romeo and Juliet” Fantasy Overture has remained on concert programmes as one of the Russian composer’s most popular compositions. Mariss Jansons last performed it together with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra at Munich’s Philharmonie im Gasteig in October 2015. The live recording is now being released on CD by BR KLASSIK, together with Stravinsky’s Suite “The Firebird” in the 1919 version and Varèse’s tone poem “Ameriques”.

“The Firebird” (L’Oiseau de feu) is a ballet and orchestral concert work by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was written for the 1910 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The original choreography was by Michel Fokine, and the scenario by Fokine and Alexandre Benois. It is based on the Russian fairy tale of the Firebird, and the blessing and curse it holds for its owner. When it premiered at the Opéra de Paris on June 25, 1910, the work was an instant success with audiences and critics alike.

In addition to the complete 50-minute ballet score of 1909-10, three shorter suites arranged by the composer himself and dating from 1911, 1919 and 1945 also exist for concert performance. The 1911 suite retains the original orchestration, while the 1919 and 1945 suites were scored for smaller orchestras. The 1919 suite remains the best known and is the most frequently performed.

Edgard Varèse, born in Paris in 1883, was drawn to music at an early age. In Paris he met Auguste Rodin and Pablo Picasso, as well as Erik Satie, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. He also witnessed the scandal surrounding Stravinsky’s “Sacre”. However, he only found his own music in his new homeland of America – having fled from the First World War. He saw himself as a member of the musical avant-garde. “Amériques” is a constantly changing tone poem scored for a large number of woodwind, brass and percussion instruments.

Peter I. Tchaikovsky
“Romeo and Juliet” Fantasy Overture

Igor Stravinsky
“The Firebird” Suite No. 2 (1919)

Edgar Varèse
“Amériques“ for large orchestra (version of 1922)

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Mariss Jansons

Live recordings:
Munich, Philharmonie im Gasteig, 13.–16.10.2015 (Tchaikovsky, Varèse)
Munich, Herkulessaal der Residenz, 18.–21.03.2013 (Stravinsky)

Total Time: 70’06 min.