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Faun and Firebird


Two mythical beasts feature in this magical concert

  • Composer 1

    Debussy

  • Composer 2

    Sibelius

  • Composer 3

    Stravinsky

  • Conductor

    Gabriel Bebeşelea

  • Soloists

    Sayaka Shoji

View Details

Event Details

Dates

01 May 2020 19:45

Venue

Ulster Hall - Belfast


Debussy - Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Sibelius - Violin Concerto
Stravinsky - Suite: The Firebird (1945)

A faun is playing his pipes alone in the woods. He is enchanted by nymphs and naiads and drifts off to sleep filled with colourful dreams... From the dreamy opening flute tune, the sleepy calm of an afternoon in the forest is evoked in Debussy's celebrated and magical Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune.

We move from forest glades to the glittering snow of the Finnish landscape. As a teenager Sibelius discovered the violin, writing ‘When I play, I am filled with a strange feeling; it is as though the insides of the music opened up to me.’ He dreamed of becoming a virtuoso violinist and seriously pursued a performing career through his early twenties. Unfortunately, his late start combined with stage fright to prevent his dream from coming true.

Many years later, however, his love of the instrument would find an outlet in one of his greatest masterpieces: the Violin Concerto in D minor. It is heart-breaking, brooding, vulnerable and utterly beautiful. The wonderful Sayaka Shoji is our soloist for this concerto.

'Shoji isn't merely a superb technician, she's a deeply engaging performer. Her richly resonant, spirited sound is impressive and so, too, is the poetic delicacy of her phrasing.'

Gramophone

The concert closes with another mythical beast, Stravinsky's dazzling, iconic Firebird. Astonishingly, Stravinsky was barely-known when he was approached to write for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, but Diaghilev had picked a winner and The Firebird was the first of a number of glorious collabourations bewteen the composer and the ballet company. It brings together characters from around half a dozen Russian fairytales to tell a thrilling story of a dashing prince, his beauiful princess and an evil wizard - but good wins the day with the help of the magical bird. 

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