Ravel / Sibelius / Prokofiev
The young French conductor Lionel Bringuier is coming to Florence’s Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino for an evening that celebrates three giants of early modern classical music. Maurice Ravel, Jean Sibelius and Sergei Prokofiev make an appearance in the programme with one outstanding piece from their respective catalogues. The uniting principle in the selection is each composer’s exploration of musical impressionism and modernism. The youthful and avantgarde appeal of the music is a perfect match to Bringuier’s energetic style and the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino’s talent and drive. Ravel / Sibelius / Prokofiev in Florence is a very special concert indeed!
The programme begins with ‘Valses nobles et sentimentales’ by Maurice Ravel. A suite of eight waltzes inspired by Franz Schubert’s own ‘noble’ and ‘sentimental’ waltz collection, the cycle started life as a piano composition in 1911 that Ravel developed for a full symphony orchestra in 1912. Over the course of about 15 minutes, the orchestra paints one intriguing sonic picture after the other. The French composer’s characteristic dissonant and creative musical landscapes breathe new life into the classic waltz genre.
The evening’s next musical station is Jean Sibelius’s symphonic poem ‘Finlandia’. It is one of the composer’s most famous orchestral compositions and the final instalment in a cycle of works dedicated to Finnish history and national identity. First performed in 1900 in Helsinki, ‘Finlandia’ was intended to protest Russian Imperial censorship and oppression. The initial turbulent and march-like themes make way for the famous ‘Finlandia Hymn’, a call for Finnish unity and bravery in the face of outside pressures that is bound to give you goose bumps.
Sergei Prokofiev’s ‘Symphony No. 4 in C Major, Op. 112’ concludes the performance. The composer crafted it in 1947-1948 as an extensive overhaul of a previous version (‘Op. 47’), with the goal of bringing it in line with the Soviet censors’ doctrine of socialist realism. As a result, Prokofiev’s Fourth expanded greatly and became a favourite piece for generations of conductors, as Lionel Bringuier also demonstrates aptly. Ravel / Sibelius / Prokofiev offers a grand showcase of career-defining works on the stage of Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence.