The music to the great ballets Rite of Spring, The Firebird and Petrushka are Stravinsky’s best known and most played works. In this concert video, with Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra plays the concert version of Petrushka.
At first, the ballet Petrushka was intended as a piano concerto, but impresario Diaghilev recognised its potential as music for a ballet. The action takes place at a Russian carnival on a snowy winter’s day in 1830s Saint Petersburg. The attractions would include a traditional Russian puppet show and when Stravinsky composed the music, he saw before him the image of a doll that came to life, and tested the orchestra’s patience with demonic cascades of piano arpeggios. Petrushka is a variation on the Italian commedia dell’arte, but with the figures placed in a Russian setting.
This concert version of Petrushka is played in four tableaus performed with no breaks. First, we find ourselves at a wintry market square, where the theatre director’s marionettes perform a dance. In the second tableau, Petrushka sits in his room, suffering from his grotesque appearance. The ballerina comes to visit, but backs away from his peculiar form. The third tableau finds us with the brutal moor, who dances with the ballerina and seduces her. In the fourth tableau, we are back at the market square, where the moor chases Petrushka and kills him with his scimitar.
Igor Stravinskky Petrushka
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Sakari Oramo conductor