Igor Stravinsky (1882 - 1971)
The Fairy’s Kiss
On the 35th anniversary of Tchaikovsky’s death, Stravinsky paid homage to him with a ballet based on his songs and piano music. The story for the ballet was the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, The Ice Maiden, which Stravinsky thought, "suggested an allegory of Tchaikovsky himself. The fairy's kiss on the heel of the child is also the muse marking Tchaikovsky at his birth - though the muse did not claim Tchaikovsky at his wedding, as she did the young man in the ballet, but rather at the height of his powers.” The Fairy’s Kiss is an unexpectedly sweet and romantic work from the composer of the Rite of Spring.
Erich Korngold (1897 — 1957)
Whenever Korngld invited the violinist Bronislow Huberman to dinner, the virtuoso would ask, “So, Erich, where’s my violin concerto?” Finally in 1945 Korngold sat down at the piano and played a soaring, lyrical theme from one of his movie scores. “That’s it!” Huberman exclaimed, “That will be my concerto - promise me you’ll write it.”
Korngold had composed film scores since the 1930s. In 1938 an invitation to score the great Errol Flynn swashbuckler, The Adventures of Robin Hood, saved Korngold’s life as he thereby escaped Austria shortly before the Anschluss.
Korngold called his scores, “Opern ohne Singen" (Operas without singing), and the Violin Concerto, a work that features many of his Hollywood film score themes, revels in his late romantic, richly textured style with its sly ability to use modernist conventions to sophisticated effect. This late work owes as much to the rich Viennese heritage of Strauss and Mahler as it does to the lush writing invented by the pre-eminent composer of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Paul Hindemith (1895 -- 1963)
Symphonic Metamorphosis on themes by Carl Maria von Weber
In 1943 he adapted music from an unfinished ballet project into this suite based on some little-known but very attractive piano duets by Weber. Although the themes are Romantic, Hindemith’s adaptation played with earlier forms, employing Baroque counterpoint alongside his modern tonalities and Expressionist tendencies. Its orchestration is full of colour and interest. The first movement’s off-kilter march is followed by a light, playful Chinese-influenced dance led by the flute. It collects more players, becoming boisterous and multi-layered. A languidly plaintive Andantino follows, full of dark sonorities in clarinet, bassoon and horn. That mood is dispelled by loud brass announcing the last movement, a fast irrepressible march garnished with madly twittering woodwinds and romping horns.