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MSO to revel in Ravel

The sublimely sensuous ‘Daphnis and Chloe’

Sep. 24, 2013
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Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Pelleas and Melisande—there are many tragic love stories in classical music. Daphnis and Chloe is one that ends happily. 

Based on a romance by Longus, a Greek writer who lived during the early Christian era, it evokes the innocent love that turns erotic between two childhood sweethearts, a goatherd boy named Daphnis and a shepherd girl named Chloe, when they reach the age of dawning sexuality. 

Considered Maurice Ravel’s greatest score, he wrote it on commission from Sergei Diaghilev for performance by the renowned Ballets Russes. It premiered in 1912 with Vaslav Nijinsky and Tamara Karsavina in the title roles. As is the case this weekend, the music is most often performed in concert, sans dancers. 

Like Claude Debussy’s Afternoon of the Faun, Ravel’s Daphnis is imbued with the intoxicating aura of a languorous summer day, conjuring a realm of rapture in Nature. The two greatest Impressionist composers, they produced a dazzling musical counterpart to the Nature-love Impressionist painters brought to their canvases. 

Ravel was one of the supreme masters of orchestration, the art by which a composer selects—like a painter selects pigments from a palette—which instrument(s) will play each of the many varied threads that comprise the fabric of a work of orchestral music. In Daphnis Ravel employs the wordless singing of the chorus, which creates a haunting effect, at times evoking the passionate sighing of the young lovers. 

Igor Stravinsky’s compelling 1931 Violin Concerto, his only concerto, will open the program with Augustin Hadelich as guest soloist. Guest conductor Roberto Abbado is the nephew of renowned conductor Claudio Abbado.

This concert will be given at 8 p.m. Sept. 27-28 in Uihlein Hall of the Marcus Performing Arts Center.


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