the Moor, and the Ballerina. The puppeteer plays his flute to bring the dolls to life. The puppets dance a Russian Dance (trépak) together.
Second Tableau. Petrushka’s Room. A door opens and Petrushka is kicked into the room, falling in a heap on the floor. He comes to life and curses his fate. The Ballerina enters and for a moment they dance together. Then she abandons Petrushka to his miserable loneliness.
Third Tableau. The Moor’s Room. The Moor, a comic villain, dances a characteristic solo. The Ballerina enters to dance and play a cornet; she waltzes with the Moor. The jealous Petrushka quarrels with the Moor, and the Ballerina faints. The Moor, much the stronger of the two, shoves Petrushka from the room. Darkness falls.
Fourth Tableau. The Fair That Evening. A group of nursemaids dances, then an animal trainer with his bear. A rich merchant, with gypsy girls on either arm, jovially tosses money to the merrymakers; stable boys and coachmen enter to dance with the nursemaids. Carnival-maskers approach, with mummers costumed as pigs and goats. Confusion erupts in the puppet theater: Petrushka rushes out, chased by the Moor, with the frightened Ballerina unable to separate them. The Moor strikes Petrushka with a Turkish sabre and he falls to the ground, his skull broken. Police fetch the puppeteer, who shakes the lifeless doll and, remorseless, shrugs. The crowd drifts away.
The old magician stands there alone and begins to drag the limp puppet toward the theater. But Petrushka’s ghost, standing on the roof of the theater, sneers at him and thumbs his nose. The terrified puppeteer drops the doll and flees. Snow begins to fall.
Britten: Spring Symphony
Benjamin Britten composed his Spring Symphony, op. 44 when he was 35, during a prolific and mature period just a year or two after he completed his operas Peter Grimes, The Rape of Lucretia, and Albert Herring. Its composition was the result of a commission from the Boston Symphony’s great conductor Serge Koussevitzky, to whom it is dedicated. (The Koussevitzky Music Foundation had also commissioned Peter Grimes.) The conductor kindly allowed the first performance to take place under another baton at the Holland Festival on 9 July 1949. Here none less than the magnificent singers Jo Vincent, Kathleen Ferrier, and Peter Pears took part, along with the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Eduard van Beinum. But just five weeks later, the first American performance took place at Tanglewood’s Berkshire Festival under Koussevitzky’s direction.
The work is phenomenally difficult for nearly all of the assembled forces. Scored for a full orchestra including a vast array of percussion instruments, chorus, children’s chorus, and three soloists, the complexity is at times staggering. The score is exceedingly dense, full of ideas and detail, which—although in many cases not at all obvious to the ear—combine in the most uncanny way into a very natural and homogenized result. At several moments in the work one encounters layer upon layer of musical textures. It seems that Britten was experiencing an unbridled burst of creativity and inventiveness. He imbued each section of the work with the qualities we associate with spring— freshness, color, and spontaneity among them.
Titled “Symphony,” the work is in four movements, each a combination of several choruses and arias. The flavors of each of the four movements closely resemble those of a classical symphony: the first movement is the longest, and it is followed by a “slow