Apollo: Leader of the Muses
April 5, 2014
STRAVINSKY Apollon Musagète
DEBUSSY Fêtes, nocturne no. 2 (arr. by Sam)
REICH Triple Quartet
On April 5th the Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra will perform a heady, rowdy set of music. Stravinsky's neoclassical ballet APOLLO, features the title character and his three muses -- Terpsichore, Calliope and Polyhymnia, each with her own specialty of dance, poetry or rhetoric -- as they summit Mount Parnassus in a chariot. Along the way Apollo instructs the muses, and each is featured in her own movement. What was Apollo showing them at the top of Parnassus? To Stravinsky it was self-evident -- the top of the mountain ("Apotheosis") is the goal, the ultimate achievement -- also, transcendentally beautiful music.
If Stravinsky's APOLLO is a victory lap at the top of the world, then Steve Reich's TRIPLE QUARTET is something else entirely. Reich stitches three separate ensembles together much the way Apollo assembled the muses, but Reich's arrangement is anything but harmonious. The groups constantly bicker. Rhythms merge, clash and quickly diverge. Only a short prayer-like lamentation slows the players before they dive into a tooth-and-nail fight to the finish.
It is Debussy who more closely aligns with Stravinky's APOLLO idyll. FÊTES could be the welcoming procession for Apollo and the muses after their journey. FÊTES describes a raucous scene, a rollicking dance with rowdiness and abandon, the antidote to Reich's edgy paranoia.
At the end of the first half of the concert we invite audience members (who would like) to join us in performing Steve Reich's 5 minute Clapping Music.