Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake
This Omaha Symphony performance was recorded live at the Holland Performing Arts Center on October 18, 2019.
For this week's Symphony Anywhere archival release, you'll hear not only your Omaha Symphony led by its newly appointed Maestro, but you'll also hear a bit of Bahl's interview with Ben Rasmussen of KVNO. Listen for more about his special arrangement of the suite's movements, which made this performance uniquely affecting.
In 1875, Tchaikovsky was commissioned to help develop and compose music for a ballet that would draw from Russian and German folktales. The result? Possibly the world’s most popular ballet, Swan Lake.
The ballet’s opening was close to disaster – the choreography was far transcended by the music, and despite the general consensus that the score was “Tchaikovsky at the height of his genius,” the composer believed he’d failed. However, ballet companies across the world revisited the production, revised the choreography, and turned Swan Lake into a timeless classic.
The suite you’re about to hear may actually be one-of-a-kind, because ballet suites face a universal problem. If the composer didn’t create their own official suite – as was true for Tchaikovsky – publishers were semi-free to put together their own, and if there were various editions, the editions didn’t need to match, either. Add some artistic license on the side of conductors, and the possibility of drawing more source material from the original score, and you could end up with a Frankenstein’s monster or something absolutely glorious – we got something absolutely glorious.
Our guest conductor for this program and Music Director Designate, Ankush Kumar Bahl, decided to customize the Swan Lake Suite, namely by adding the Finale. The published suite ends in a lovely but docile mood, which doesn’t reflect the hyper-romantic, monstrously gorgeous and emotionally charged ending of the ballet itself. By adding the Finale to the Suite, you get to experience the entire force of the symphony driving to this epic conclusion and I mean FORCE: French horns, trumpets, and trombones practically shook the foundation of the Holland that weekend, and the memory of the drumroll minutes before the end STILL brings me goosebumps.
–Dani Meier, Vice President of Artistic Administration and Omaha Symphony Bassist
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