Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Likhacheva, Irina. “Carmen-Suita.” In Muzykal’nyĭ Teatr Rodiona Shchedrina, 100–165. Moscow: Sovetskii Kompozitor, 1977.

Although there have been many arrangements of Bizet’s Carmen, Shchedrin’s Carmen-Suite sheds new light onto the process of transcription. His work is unified, with a strict dramaturgical outline, and presents an individualized view on Carmen’s tragic story that focuses on her relationship with broader society. Shchedrin achieves this through a focus on bold contrasts in the sequential order of scenes, which puts conflict and juxtaposition as the main force of momentum for the ballet. In order to heighten the sense of contrast, Shchedrin alters the original’s orchestration, structure, and sequence of episodes, and he also reworks small-scale melodic fragments. He constructs the ballet in contrasting episodes, representing the battle between Carmen’s freedom and tempestuousness against the backdrop of her alienating society, as represented by masks on the stage. To bring this conflict to the forefront of the ballet, Shchedrin chooses moments from the opera with the greatest emotional expressivity, occasionally altering the tonality and omitting phrases, and associating certain instrumentation with specific characters. He maximises the dramaturgical potential of his chosen orchestration of strings and a large array of percussion instruments. The percussion section can be seen as equal to the strings in this ballet, as they punctuate and define the melody’s rhythmic contour, create timbral variation, and give exotic colouring. The resulting orchestration and adaptation of Carmen reignites the function and practice of transcription in the twentieth century.

Works: Rodion Shchedrin: Carmen-Suite (100–165).

Sources: Bizet: Carmen (100–165).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Maria Fokina

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