The translucent scoring and evanescent lyricism of this ballet – a cousin to Apollo (who appears at the close to "raise heavenward Orpheus' song") – confer a distinctive beauty. Even the Furies are spectral and restrained. Orpheus's pleading lyre is memorably translated as a solo harp. Stravinsky's retelling of the famous myth connects to a rarefied lineage of musical incarnations also including the Orpheus operas of Monteverdi and Gluck – and (a possible companion piece) Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto, in which the solo piano, pleading for Eurydice, pacifies the angry string choir of the second movement.
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to Boosey & Hawkes/Joseph Horowitz.
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