The Rite of Spring

Composed by Igor Stravinky

Part of Nicholas Roerich’s designs for Diaghilev’s 1913 production of Le Sacre du printemps

Probably the most celebrated score of the twentieth century, The Rite of Spring provoked a full-scale riot at its first performance in 1913. Hardly a single serious composer in the world escaped its influence. Savage and haunting, unearthly and violent, harsh and sensual, it paints a panorama of fantastic instrumental colour, animated by a rhythmic drive and power of irresistible excitement and often astounding complexity. A whole new world of sound in its day, it retains its modernity and fascination, its thrills and its terrors, as much today as it ever did. Here we put it under the aural microscope and explore just what it is that makes it tick, and why it continues to hook listener after listener almost a century later. The work is also played in its entirety.

What makes The Rite of Spring sound so remarkable even today? Perhaps it is because while it exudes primitive, earthy, even atavistic rituals, it is a famously complex score. It is difficult to play, difficult to conduct, difficult to analyse ¡V and yet we respond to it almost physically. In his masterly way, Jeremy Siepmann sheds light on how it works and why it works. He guides us safely through the maze so that we emerge with a far better understanding of this, one of the greatest works of the twentieth century.

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