Stravinsky’s Firebird marks a suitably rousing opener to the Phil’s year long celebration of Diaghilev’s series of ballets scored by the leading composers of the early 20th century. Firebird, unlike the Rite of Spring, was an instant hit: blending supernatural themes with Russian folklore, and Stravinsky’s most exotic and sensuous score. A lyrical and dramatic start, then, to what’s set to be a fascinating exploration of one of the most explosive artistic partnerships of the 20th century.

The Ballets Russes was a travelling ballet company under the direction of Sergei Diaghilev – widely regarded as the greatest ballet company of the 20th century. Stravinsky was a virtual unknown when he was chosen to score their production of Firebird – we’re guessing the plaudits from this went to his head. Three years later his dissonant rhythms and aggressive dynamics caused a riot, with the production having to be cancelled. A few years later, however, when people actually, like, listened to it, the man was paraded around town as a genius. Oh we know that feeling.

We’re hoping for no such shenanigans when Vasily Petrenko conducts the Rite of Spring next May – 100 years to the month that it was first performed. But we can’t wait to find out.

Meanwhile, feast on Petrenko and virtuoso young pianist, Simon Trpčeski, this September – another musical partnership making waves – with Firebird and Tchaikovsky’s exquisite Piano Concerto No2.

‘The young Macedonian virtuoso (Trpčeski) teams up again with Petrenko’s blossoming Liverpool Philharmonic … These performances are a meeting of dazzling musical minds’ says The Sunday Times.

The themed season also includes Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade (5/6 December), Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances (23/24 May).

“Every single concert is a happening,” Petrenko says.

Electrifying stuff.

Stravinsky’s Firebird, Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.2
September 12, RLPO, Hope Street

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