Symphonic Poetry and Spirituality in the Silver Age

Bard Festival Chorale / James Bagwell, choral director; The Orchestra Now / Leon Botstein, music director

Mané Galoyan, soprano; Maya Lahyani, mezzo-soprano; Viktor Antipenko, tenor; Ethan Vincent, baritone;

The decades before the Revolution saw a cultural flourishing in Russia, notable for its spiritual and intellectual currents in poetry, painting and music.

Program 12 revisits this fruitful period with grand-scale choral symphonies by two of its leading lights: former classmates Scriabin and Rachmaninoff. A visionary mystic who died at just 43, Scriabin believed in the transformative power of art, as expressed in his original text for his Wagnerian, six-movement First Symphony.

By contrast, Rachmaninoff was notoriously satirized by Stravinsky as “six foot two inches of Russian gloom,” and The Bells offers a more apocalyptic vision. However, the work— Rachmaninoff’s favorite of his own compositions—concludes in the major mode, its warm string melody suggesting serenity and hope.

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