On Saturday I went to see the Dickinson Orchestra’s performance of Augural Years in Music. The pieces from Stravinsky’s The Firebird particularly stood out from the rest of the performance because of the tone and feeling that I associated them with. At first, it honestly reminded me of the waltz from the Godfather, low, dark and haunting, the kind of thing my father said he would play to scare all the non-Italians at my wedding, but I digress. The “Berceuse” gave me the feeling of a lone figure walking on a deserted street at night. Gradually as the violins rose and sounded like they were at a different pace than the wind instruments, I was filled with a sense of anxiety, like I was watching someone follow the figure with questionable motives. The “Finale” when it was played was a relief, a triumphant rise out of the darkness and an end to the falling sensation created by the violins.
Both pieces worked very well to encapsulate the Russian folk experience, often filled with suffering but rising to a glorified end, especially during the Soviet period even though this piece was written before it. Unlike some of the other selections in the concert, both of the pieces felt very personal and very specific to the Russian experience as I imagined it was. This was aided by the fact that each part of the orchestra, like the Russian people, seemed to be working separately for most of the piece, moving at different paces and through different pitches, but at the end all came together to create this unified “Russia” that was one of the people.