Here’s a concert with a trio of fantastical stories to tell, beginning with literature’s most iconic rags-to-riches tale. Rossini’s overture to his opera Cinderella has all the zest and wit for which he’s famous and provides a lively prelude to the suite from Rimsky-Korsakov’s satirical opera, The Golden Cockerel. Based on a poem by Pushkin, its satirical story of an idiotic Tsar outwitted by a crazy magician, was too close for comfort for the Russian authorities, who banned it until after the composer’s death. Thankfully its atmospheric score, with oriental echoes, was turned into a memorable Suite that captures the opera’s kaleidoscopic craziness.
Igor Stravinsky was one of many Russian composers inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov, and his ballet The Firebird was directly influenced by The Golden Cockerel. Written for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes in 1910, it was the breakthrough moment for the young composer. Its brilliant orchestration, particularly its capturing of the spirit of the firebird itself, provides a fascinating counterpart to the other avian presence in this programme. Vaughan Williams’s sublime The Lark Ascending soars high in response to a George Meredith poem, and regularly tops nationwide polls as classical music’s best–loved masterpiece.
Free pre-concert talk, 6.20pm in the auditorium: Professor Robert Adlington, Royal College of Music, explores representations of birds in classical music.
About The CBSO at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
- Rossini, Overture: La Cenerentola
- Rimsky-Korsakov, The Golden Cockerel
- Vaughan Williams, The Lark Ascending
- Stravinsky, The Firebird (1919 Suite)