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Rite of Spring

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Almost definitely imitating the act of new life waking in the spring soil, Stravinsky starts the haunting introduction to his world-renown ballet, Rite of Spring, with a high-pitched lone bassoon. The unstable eeriness continues as a horn and pair of clarinets join in the rubato tempo. Just as everything wakes and bursts into life in spring, so does the piece as more and more instruments join in. Each instrument seems to have a different theme, but seems necessary in portraying the thick texture needed to symbolize the inevitable climactic arrival of Spring. After the orchestra has finished its first outburst and almost all instruments have initially come in, a strange harmonic effect is applied to the viola. As the orchestra draws to a climax the sound is cut-off, and the eerie feeling returns as the bassoon takes its initial theme. This time the orchestra does not burst in afterwards. Instead, a string bridge appears and the next movement greets us. The main emphasis of the orchestration in this movement seems to appear in the strings and the Horns. The initial chord is a polychord of Eb 7 and F minor. Heavy strings accompany horns that do not play when expected (polyrhytms). There are accented off beats everywhere (I counted accents on 9, 2, 6, 3, 4, 5 and 3). Thick homophonic strings appear, and are followed by a sudden surge in bassoons and cellos (in different keys- C major and E minor arpeggios all following each other). This thin sound lasts for four bars exactly before we are yet again plunged into the loud chords. This is typical of Stravinsky, as he liked quick transposition between episodes so one never knows quite what one is expecting. Next, a fanfare-like figure is introduced on the trumpets and is passed around the orchestra. Soon after, everything stops (typical Stravinsky) and the chords in the string section returns. The chords now persist for a little longer and there are no bassoon solos. Instead of having a break every now and then, this time the bassoon is on top of the whole string orchestra, playing a loud, simple, powerful rhythm. This eventually is done in some other wind instruments and the movement is finished with a loud bang from the Timpani really caught me off guard. The orchestra then builds up into tremolo ideas used in the strings that create a busy effect. Another fanfare-like figure is introduced on the horns, which appears throughout the rest of the movement. Stravinsky plays around with the accents in the music thus resulting in 9-8 bars subdivided into a 4-8 and another 5-8 bar. Generally the music gets louder and louder, with strange variations in time signature. The orchestra stops again and the fanfare-figure is given another solo on the horn. After some movement from the horns and fast tremolo from both the strings and the woodwind, the timpani give a big hit. At the end of the movement, a theme between the busy tremolo strings and full orchestral hits appears. The movement finishes with four hits, out of time and the link to the next movement consisting of a

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