Jazzy, folky, dancelike and devilish – the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Fellows perform playful modern masterpieces.
As Igor Stravinsky (supposedly) said: ‘A good composer does not imitate; he steals.’ Stealing from Russian folk traditions, jazz and more, Stravinsky lavished his loot on The Soldier’s Tale, the story of a deal with the devil.
Originally a music theatre piece, Stravinsky recycled the spiky tangos, waltzes, rags and diabolical fiddling into a suite for the concert hall. As usual, the Devil gets the best tunes, and the last word.
Béla Bartók didn’t steal the folk music of Hungary for his music, he absorbed it into his very being. Rhapsodic folk-like melodies float through a ghostly landscape in his String Quartet No.3, a taut, cathartic quarter-hour of unconventional beauty.
Polish composer Witold Lutosławski began his career writing vivid folk-inflected music. His ‘farewell’ to this style was the popular Dance Preludes, an entertaining suite for combined woodwind quintet and string quartet.