This week’s BSO concert is entitled “Symphonic Fairytales,” and features Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, a violin concerto by John Adams (not the president, although John Adams is forever synonymous with William Daniels in my head and that’s a recipe for hilarity right there) and Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite. I have two things to say about this.
1. I was reading through the program notes, and saw this:
The four movements [of Scheherazade] are essentially self-explanatory. In the first, after Scheherazade’s introduction come surging arpeggios in the cellos and violas: we are on the high seas with Sinbad the Sailor. The second movement, “The Story of the Kalander Prince,” is built around an exotic Middle Eastern-style melody introduced by the solo bassoon; kalanders were magicians in Middle Eastern courts. The fourth movement is the most complex: it begins with the riotous color and swirling activity of “The Festival of Baghdad,” and then, at the festival’s height, sends us suddenly back to Sinbad’s seas, as the low strings billow and a fierce storm screams overhead in the woodwinds.
Glad to read that bit about what a kalander was; I remember looking at the title in seventh grade and experiencing a disquieting puzzlement of great magnitude. But more importantly–what’s the third movement about?! I must know!
So I went and looked it up. This article from NPR is coincidentally written by Marin Alsop! Fancy that! It declares that the third movement represents a love story between a young prince and princess, and it should be sentimental but not too sentimental. I think we can all sleep better for knowing this.
2. When I was in second grade, our music teacher taught us a little song to go with the “Infernal Dance” theme of The Firebird. It went like this:
I am the Firebird
Here’s the Infernal Dance
Stravinsky took a chance
But we are pretty sure that you’ll like it okay