L'Oiseau de feu
Selections of the Suite for orchestra (1945)
Composed by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1972)
Adapted for flute and piano by Kyle MacLeod (2013)
For Flute and piano
Published by Schott
Includes score and flute part
I. Danse infernale de tous les sujets de Kastchei
III. Hymne final
Igor Stravinsky's musical setting of the Slavonic fable of the firebird, L'Oiseau de feu, is one of the pioneering orchestral works from the beginning of the 20th century. Reviews of the first performance of the ballet at the Théatre National de l'Opera in Paris in 1910 lauded Stravinsky's “dazzling music in all shades of colour” which was also described as a “glittering and bewitching phenomenon”. In 1911 and 1919, Stravinsky created two orchestral suites which can be performed as independent orchestral works. A further version followed in 1945 which has in part provided the basis for the following arrangement for flute and piano.
One day, Prince Ivan, whilst hunting, sees a bird whose plumage shines with the brilliance of flame. He follows it, and it leads him to Kastchei's magic garden, where he succeeds in capturing it. The Firebird pleads for its freedom, and when Ivan eventually relents, it presents him with one of its flame-coloured feathers in token that it will fly to his aid in case of need.
After the bird has flown away, Kastchei's captive maidens accompany the princess Zarewna to the garden to play with the golden apples growing there. Here Ivan encounters them and, after some hesitation from the maidens, is allowed to join in their game and falls in love with Zarewna. At the approach of dawn, the maidens return to the ogre's palace, warning Prince Ivan not to attmpt to follow them. Disobediently, he flings open the gates whereupon the sound of a magic carillon heralds the appearance of the entire montrous retinue of Kastchei's subjects followed by the ogre himself. Ivan is captured and about to be turned to stone when he remembers the feather and calls the Firebird to his aid. It answers and charms the monsters into a frenzied dance until they collapse in exhaustion. The Firebird lulls them to sleep and directs Ivan to the casket. He finds it, takes out Kastchei's soul and smashes it to pieces. Immediately, Kastchei and his magic garden and monsters vanish. The captive maidens are free and the stones resume human form. Amid the rejoicing, Ivan weds the captive Princess with whom he will reign over the kingdom which will henceforth be free from evil. From the background, a vision of everlasting Moscow appears.