Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose)
My first encounter with the work…
A performer’s favourite… As part of a tour I played (at Bell concerts) and recorded the suite from Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier under conductor Franz-Paul Decker when I was 19 years old. I was in the second desk of the first violins and had some short solos. I also had a front-row seat from which to enjoy the principal violin’s solos and discover both a great conductor and a piece of music that gave me goosebumps when I played it. It was a feeling I rediscovered when performing the work under Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Ottawa and Montreal in May 2013, as part of concerts that brought together the Orchestre Métropolitain and Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra.
My favourite passage
The big violin solo toward the end of the work, at about 15 minutes 45 seconds. After nine measures, the associate principal violin joins in, forming a duo. The juxtaposition of the seconds in this beautiful melodic line transports me! I also love the passage at about 7 minutes 10 seconds. A wonderful orchestral transition that leads to the violins’ melodic rapture.
Listen closely and pay special attention to:
The harmonic richness of the work, the expressiveness of the melodies with their dreamy glissandos, the romanticism, the conjured universe. Imagine a huge ballroom, like in a fairy tale, and a dashing knight…