Season Finale: The Devil’s Violin

Saturday, June 2, 2018
8 PM
7:15 PM Young Artist Program Showcase Concert

George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center
1225 N. Rampart Street
Faubourg Tremé


Igor Stravinsky: Histoire du Soldat Suite
Maurice Ravel: String Quartet
George Enescu: Octet in C Major, Op. 7

The city of Paris was a musical crucible in the late 19th and early 20th century. Igor Stravinsky (Russian by birth), Maurice Ravel, and the Romanian violinist George Enescu all made it their home. While the music of these three contemporaries is vastly different in style, they share a certain “je ne sais quoi” in their irrepressible rhythmic energy and melodic finesse.

Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat, or Soldier’s Tale, recounts a parable about a man who sells his fiddle (and his soul) to the devil in exchange for material gain. Based on a Russian folk tale, and originally written to be “read, danced, and played”, Stravinsky condensed the music from the original ballet into a Suite which bursts with honky-tonk piano and jazzy reparté as the bargain unfolds.

Stravinsky jibed that Maurice Ravel was a “swiss clock-maker” for his fanatically measured and meticulous approach to his craft. It’s this very precision, however, that brings the kaleidoscopic harmonies, languorous lyricism, and sparkling Spanish rhythms of his String Quartet to life in technicolor detail.

Inspired throughout his life by the folk-music of his native Romania, George Enescu’s Octet is one of the composer’s most ambitious works: Ensecu wrote that “An engineer launching his first suspension bridge over a river, could not feel more anxiety than I felt when I set out to darken my paper.” Closing the festival with an appropriately epic sweep, the Octet’s rhapsodic style and hallucinatory counterpoint underpin a grand and cyclical narrative.