Fairytale night conducted by Holly Mathieson
At the 13 December Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra subscriber event, you will have a chance to encounter not only the remarkable conductor Holly Mathieson, a New Zealand native currently based in Glasgow, but also a young British singer, Grace Durham, who will be performing Maurice Ravel’s song cycle, Shéhérazade. The attractive programme also includes Fairytale Poem by Sofia Gubaidulina and selected pieces from Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet, Cinderella.
You will have the opportunity to enjoy these fairy tales, for children and adults alike, transformed into a musical form in person in the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum, live on the radio on ČRo Vltava or later from a recording on 15 December at 8:00 PM ČRo D-dur.
Fairytale Poem – composed in 1971 by one of the greatest and most interesting composers of the 20th and the 21st centuries, Sofia Gubaidulina (who celebrated her 90th birthday this year) – is an orchestral work using instruments in an inventive manner. This work was inspired in part by a Czech tale about a chalk stick that wanted to draw pictures of the sun, foreign lands, beautiful castles and the sea, but was used to write numbers and words on a school blackboard instead. If you see in this a metaphor for grief over stifled creativity, you are surely not mistaken.
Shéhérazade is a colourful, mysterious and passionate cycle consisting of three songs, written in 1902 by Maurice Ravel to Tristan Klingsor’s verses. The first of the songs – a dream of sorts – is an expression of infatuation with the East. The second song, in which the distant sound of a flute feels as if it were giving gentle kisses, is a mysterious tale that whispers a desire for a young man. The final song is a nostalgic, even mystic, meeting between an enchanted woman and an indifferent man. Ravel managed to create a perfect harmony between the orchestra and the vocals. The triptych has a titillative air of raciness, yet without being sentimental.
Prokofiev’s Cinderella fairy-tale ballet was ordered from Leningrad in 1941, but the piece did not premiere until 1945 due to the blockade of the city during the war. The free string of dances is dominated by the title character’s gentle melancholy and dreaming of happiness. 17th and 18th century dances weave their way through the sounds of the ballet, culminated with three waltzes.
Shéhérazade. Song cycle written to Tristan Klingsor’s verses
Cinderella. Selected pieces from the ballet
Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra
Holly Mathieson – conductor
Grace Durham – mezzo-soprano
Rudolfinum, 13 December 2021 at 7:30 p.m.