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Episode 4

Donald Macleod continues his exploration of the rich tradition of Russian opera from Glinka to Schnittke with a musical conservative - Sergei Rachmaninov - and a pair of progressives - Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Prokofiev. One of only three operas completed by Rachmaninov, The Miserly Knight sets one of Pushkin's four Little Tragedies, in a tradition stretching back to Alexander Darghomïzhsky's The Stone Guest. Stravinsky's opera The Nightingale is an attractive but rather strange work. Stravinsky wrote the first act in 1909, then broke off to fulfil what turned out to be a trio of ballet commissions, for The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. When he returned to The Nightingale in 1914 - with the incentive of a fat commission fee from the Moscow Free Theatre - his style had undergone a radical transformation. It had changed again by 1922 when he started work on his next opera, Mavra, which stands at the beginning of his neo-classical phase. After a somewhat shaky start - the composer compared the critics at the New York première to a "pack of dogs let out from behind the gate to bite my trousers to shreds" - Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges has gone on to become one of his best-loved works, a delightfully absurd confection in which a hypochondriac prince finds the love of his life inside an enchanted orange - and why not.

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Thu 30 Dec 2010 12:00

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