This Sunday, April 6, the Marine Chamber Orchestra will perform the concert “Transformations” featuring the music of composers Rodion Shchedrin and Igor Stravinsky. Conducted by Col. Michael J. Colburn, the performance will take place at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Va. The program is free and no tickets are required; parking is available for $6.
The term “transformation” best describes the two works on this program. Shchedrin provides a new take on the music from Georges Bizet’s beloved opera Carmen with his Carmen-Suite. Scored for strings and percussion, it is “a creative meeting of the minds” of Bizet and Shchedrin, and it has become the Russian composer’s best-known work. The piece came about after both Dmitri Shostakovich and Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian turned down the request from Bolshoi ballerina Maya Plisetskaya to create a new ballet score based on the tale of Carmen. Neither composer wanted to compete with Bizet. So, Plisetskaya then turned to her composer husband, Shchedrin, and convinced him to compose the new score. While all of the melodies in Shchedrin’s Carmen-Suite come from Bizet, the unusual scoring for strings and percussion, the sequence and combination of melodies, and the rhythmic and harmonic twists and turns belong entirely to Shchedrin. The result is a work that is both familiar and fresh.
Stravinsky’s Pulcinella was composed at the request of Serge Diaghilev, director of the Ballet Russe and longtime collaborator with the composer, and based upon the 18th century theatrical style known as Commedia dell’arte. Diaghilev recommended that Stravinsky consider orchestrating the music of Italian composer Giovanni Pergolesi, an idea Stravinsky initially resisted. After extensive study of the Italian master’s music, however, Stravinsky confessed that “I looked, and I fell in love.” Stravinsky masterfully blends Pergolesi’s classical melodies with his own distinctive rhythmic and harmonic language to create a work that is considered by many to be the best example of his Neoclassical period.
Complete program and notes