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A Portrait of a Lady by Swan Lake
for Violin and Symphony Orchestra
Swan Lake is a timeless romantic ballet story that has it all - romance, tragedy, constant transformations of the main characters and the struggle between the good and the evil forces that control people's lives. Peter Tchaikovsky's music is also a timeless musical narrative that has it all. Despite all this, I felt tempted to try to look at the same story from a different angle.
Upon receiving the commission, I decided to make a violin soloist the main character in this tale. No other instrument perhaps can be better suitable for telling us how it feels for a young woman to be forced by an evil spell to the constant transformations between a swan during the daytime and into a human by night. Imagine this happening at every sunset and every dawn. Imagine all the physical pain and mental confusion when the feathers are falling off just for a few hours and breaking out again through the delicate human skin. Imagine the neck shrinking quickly and growing long again at the first signs of the rising sun. Imagine the human voice transforming again and again into an anxious cry of a bird. Imagine this happening night after night, morning after morning, for what seems to be an eternity until a foolish prince emerges from the enchanted forest. His unselfish love to a Swan Princess helps to finally break the spell.
A Portrait of a Lady by Swan Lake
”...a delicious glowing sound palette of the best Russian-romantic brand.”
Camilla Lundberg, Dagens Nyheter
The opening concert of the season begins with the performance of "Dracula" composer Victoria Borisova Ollas' first Violin concerto. Concerto starts off rocking leisurely , like a giant's gait. The solo violin, performed by Baiba Skride is joining in sometimes with straight and aggressive staccati, sometimes with swirling dance moves, playful pizzicati and melancholic portamenti.
The orchestra set is generously seasoned with sounds of gongs, harp, celesta and bells. The work is inspired by the story of "Swan Lake", and some sequences are both dreamy, fabulous and painful as those in Tchaikovsky's ballet.
Soloist Baiba Skride demonstrates her entire impressive map of colors, sounds and technical skills.
Gunilla Brodrej, Expressen
Baiba Skride's ”swan princess” seems to be fighting her fight on the shore of a lake which is on the way to evapouration during the climate warming. Trapped in a marching ostinato, she struggles to rise above the crashing ice masses. In the middle part of the Concerto, the voice of the solo Violin seems to be built into a fragile glass cage of harp, chimes and celesta, and flutters against the bars of the cage in a solo cadenza rich with overtones. The dreamy ending finally lets her sail away above the melting water with her wings spread. The narrative is built of contrasts between darkness and light, in folk-style melancholy that dresses Baiba Skride's skillful play.
Sofia Nyblom, Svenska Dagbladet