Notes and Editorial Reviews
Igor Stravinsky’s later stage works Mavra (1922), Oedipus Rex (1927/28) or The Rake’s Progress (1951) are more than matched by his early “lyrical fairy tale in three acts” Le Rossignol, which occupies a special place – due to its brevity at scarcely 45 minutes. It is also unusual for the fairy-tale subject matter, based on a story called The Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen; for its language – the original was Danish, this recording features the Russian version, yet it was premiered in French in Paris in 1914; and for its style, especially since there was a significant gap in time between the composition of the first and the other two acts, a fact that the composer was admittedly able to justify from a point of view of the shaping of the plot, since the cold atmosphere of the Chinese emperor’s royal household required a quite different musical approach to that of the beginning and end of the tale. The emperor, who is first enchanted by the bird’s song, then banishes the real thing when visiting emissaries present him with a mechanical nightingale which he names “first singer”. When the emperor later falls ill, the nightingale returns to sing to him, and saves his life.