Masquerade – Aram Khachaturian
The drama Masquerade by Russian playwright and poet Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841) -once controversial due to its sharp commentaries on Russian society- has served as inspiration for music on many occasions, providing the subject matter for several operas and at least one ballet. Aram Khachaturian followed the example of Russian composer of the late Russian Romantic period, music teacher and conductor Alexander Glazunov in writing incidental music to accompany the stage action for Masquerade.
The music is rather lighter in tone than the play itself. Khachaturian employs occasional irony in depicting the gaiety of Russian social life in the early nineteenth century, but otherwise eschews the darkness of the play in favor of tuneful, light-hearted music with an occasional inflection of Russian folk styles. Khachaturian’s score was premiered on June 21, 1941. The music proved popular, and in 1944 the composer extracted a suite of five pieces from the score for concert performance.
The poetic drama by Lermontov uncovers the ruthless truth about people and the world they live in, the severe world where the morality teeters on the razor’s edge. But masquerade is also the feast with enchanting music, bright costumes, mysterious masks, alluring power of revelry, where people make fun, slander and gammon, without being recognized, as they are free from everything including their own selves.
Masquerade is a theatre of characters, intrigues, flirting, intense and dangerous confessions. Fools and scoffers, dissemblers and clowns, romantic heroes and hoaxers run together hiding sense of shame under the masks.
Masquerade (suite from the incidental music)