The idea to arrange Stravinsky’s Pétrouchka for a small chamber ensemble came to me when I was preparing for a schools project. Pétrouchka is a brilliant story for children to learn and the ballet score is wonderfully evocative. However I have often thought that the narrative is rather lost when the dance element is removed leaving just the music. So I decided to include a narrator to help point up the drama Stravinsky so skillfully depicts in his score.
The choice of instruments was suggested by a little-known ballet score by another Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. Trapeze was a surreal circus ballet that disappeared from the repertoire soon after it’s first tour. Prokofiev recycled six movements of the ballet to form a concert work, simply titled Quintet for oboe, clarinet, violin, viola & double bass. Prokofiev’s lost ballet score is as vivid as Stravinsky in spite of the frugal forces required. By adding an accordion the swirling fairground sounds of carousel and organ grinder can be realized and the result is exhilarating.
Synopsis – Music from the ballet Pétrouchka with narrator – a tale of puppets, passions and illusions, performed by Tête a Tête’s associate ensemble CHROMA.
Ian Watson (accordion)
Marcus Barcham-Stevens (violin)
Stuart King (clarinet)
Oliver Wilson (viola)
Jeremy Foster (oboe)
Elena Hull (double bass)
Founded in 1997, CHROMA is a dynamic, critically acclaimed chamber ensemble featuring some of Britain’s most outstanding musicians, known for the passion it brings to contemporary works, its vivid renderings of classic pieces and its diverse programme of education work.
Following its debut at the Purcell Room CHROMA has become most closely associated with the performance of contemporary music and has forged close links with many prominent British composers through an extensive series of premières and collaborations.
Recent projects have included the world premières of Jonathan Dove’s award-winning On Spital Fields – a Community Cantata for Spitalfields Festival, and Marcus Barcham-Stevens’ music for contemporary dance piece Tela/Bride with Lantern Dance Company. 2008 has seen the premieres of “Surrounded Ground” by Arlene Sierra; “Strike Opponent’s Ears with Both Fists” by Julian Grant and “Songlines” by John Cooney.
With Tête à Tête, for whom CHROMA is Associate Ensemble, recent premieres include Julian Grant’s “knitting opera” Odysseus Unwound and the six opera shorts Blind Date.
CHROMA has an active outreach and education programme, including ongoing collaborations with Spitalfields Festival, Tête à Tête and Cardiff University, and is resident at the University of London’s Royal Holloway and Bedford College.
CHROMA is supported by the PRS Foundation for new music.