“Petrushka” was born of Stravinsky’s vision of a long-haired musician hammering indiscriminately at the piano keys and engaging in a furious contest with the orchestra which »answers with vehement protests and acoustic fisticuffs«. As was the case with “The Rite of Spring” and “The Firebird”, Sergei Diaghilev and his Russian ballet had their share in ensuring that the ‘burlesque’ in four scenes would be suitable for the stage.
The clown-doll Petrushka revels in his spiteful teasing and pranks at the Shrovetide fair. The orchestra contributes swirling dance figures, blaring brass and scurrying strings to his high-spirited clownery – but then the Moor enters and dances with the Ballerina, arousing jealousy in Petrushka. Although the clown-doll does not survive this bitter-sweet story, he triumphs at the end, his ghost mocking the crowd at the fair.
This highly inventive music combines folksong, popular music and the waltz, all bound together by exhilating rhythms which are often taken to thunderous extremes. With its outstanding sound, this recording is a must-have in any Stravinsky collection.