On Thursday, May 2, Maestro Ronald Zollman will lead the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic in a program featuring the impressionistic music of Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky. This concert, the Philharmonic's final program of the season, delights in storytelling of all kinds-from pagan legends, to classical mythology, to children's fables.
Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune) provides a wonderful entrée into this world of make-believe. Debussy was inspired by Stephane Mallarmé's poem of the same title--its evocation of dreamy sensuality and langour--to compose a concise and elegant tone poem of shimmering lushness. And while it is effortlessly lyrical on the surface, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun is nevertheless recognized as one of the most revolutionary works of 20th century music.
We then continue to the music of Maurice Ravel, one of Debussy's compatriots and admirers. His Mother Goose Suite (Ma mère l'oye) is a winsome backward glance at the best-loved fables of his youth: here, listeners will meet Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb, Beauty and the Beast, and will finally take a dreamy walk through an enchanted Fairy Garden. Ravel originally conceived of the work as a piano duet for young children; despite the work's basic simplicity, its orchestral incarnation evinces an ethereal, urbane sophistication that is the hallmark of his genius.
And finally, Stravinsky takes the spotlight--although Russian by birth, Stravinsky found a second home in Paris, where he began a series of theatrical collaborations with ballet impresario and fellow expatriate Sergei Diaghilev. The Firebird Suite (L'oiseau de feu) was their first effort, and it is an imaginative reworking of two traditional slavic folk tales: the myth of the Firebird, whose magic, flame-colored feathers bring light and warmth, and of King Katschei the Deathless, an implacable villain. Not surprisingly, this larger-than-life tale of good against evil and supernatural magic calls for virtuosity from all sections of the orchestra.
The concert will take place on Thursday, May 2nd at 8:00 pm at Carnegie Music Hall. Tickets are $5 general admission, free for students with valid ID.