Showcase Sep-Nov 2014 - page 63

6, 7, 8
Program Notes
takes place by the mill. The young man
watches his betrothed and her friends preparing for the
wedding. The girls dance gaily and leave. The
Pas de deux
for the two lovers consists of three sections: a tenderly
with ornate arabesques in the woodwinds,
a solo variation for the fiancée danced to a lightly tripping
melody for two flutes, and a vigorous dance in which the
lovers are joined again by the crowd of peasant girls.
This concludes the Divertimento, but in the complete
ballet, the Fairy reappears in the guise of the man’s
fiancée and tricks him into showing her his love. With
the man now firmly in her power, the Fairy bears him off
to her icy kingdom, “a land beyond time and place” as
Stravinsky calls it, from where he will never depart and
where she kisses him once again, this time on the sole of
his foot.
In the preface to the score, Stravinsky wrote: “I dedicate
this ballet to the memory of Peter Tchaikovsky by
relating the Fairy to his Muse, and in this way the ballet
becomes an allegory, the Muse having similarly branded
Tchaikovsky with her fatal kiss, whose mysterious imprint
made itself felt in all this great artist’s work.”
2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn,
3 clarinets (1 doubling bass clarinet), bass clarinet,
2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones,
tuba, timpani, bass drum, harp and strings
Program notes by
Robert Markow
Stravinsky incorporated ideas from no fewer than 11 piano
pieces and five songs into his 45-minute ballet
Le Baiser de la fée
(The Fairy’s Kiss). Eric Walter White,
in his monograph on the composer, states that “when
[Stravinsky] came to assemble his pickings, he found
his appetite as a composer so quickened by contact
with Tchaikovsky’s individual genius that he was able
to continue quite fluently in the same vein where
Tchaikovsky had left off.…The result was that although
the major part of the score of
The Fairy’s Kiss
consists of
authentic borrowings from Tchaikovsky, there are also
numerous passages and fragments of his own invention.”
White later describes the complete assimilation of one
composer by another as follows: “The melos may remind
one of Tchaikovsky; but the total music is Stravinsky’s.”
Continuing this train of thought, Lawrence Morton
has imaginatively written that where Tchaikovsky’s
characteristic patterns appear, “instead of being
Tchaikovsky’s inevitable squares, they are Stravinsky’s
rhomboids, scalenes, trapeziums or trapezoids—shapes
somehow stretched or shrunken into asymmetry and
arranged in unpredictable combinations. Tchaikovsky’s
faults—his banalities and vulgarities and routine
procedures—are composed
of the music, and
Stravinsky’s virtues are composed
For the scenario, Stravinsky turned to another great
artistic figure of the 19th century, Hans Christian
Andersen, with whom Tchaikovsky, in Stravinsky’s words,
“had so much in common … a great poet with a gentle,
sensitive soul whose imaginative mind was wonderfully
akin to that of the musician.” From Andersen, Stravinsky
chose as his theme the story of “The Ice Maiden.”
Six years after the world premiere in Paris (November 27,
1928), the composer created a shortened version of
The Fairy’s Kiss
for concert performance only (not to be
danced). Using about two-thirds of the original material,
he assembled the four-movement Divertimento.
a fairy from an icy kingdom
In the ballet, the
opens with music suggestive of
a lullaby, as a woman carries a child in her arms through
the windswept snow. The Snow Fairy’s attendants kidnap
the child, bringing it to the Fairy. To the lullaby music
(solo flute), she imprints a kiss on the child’s forehead.
The child is abandoned, then found and rescued by
passing peasants.
Without a break in the music, the scene shifts to a village
fair 20 years later. The child, now grown, is seen dancing
with his betrothed in
Danses suisses
(Swiss dances).
Stravinsky cleverly evokes sounds of a village band, which
provides various dance steps in duple and triple meter.
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