Fantasia on Stravinskian themes for two solo trumpets and wind ensemble, grade 5/6
Reanimations is both an imagined epilogue to Stravinsky’s great ballet, Petroushka, and a trumpet player’s fever dream on the eve of a big audition. At the end of Petroushka, the title character, a marionette in a traveling show, is killed by another of the characters, the Moor (also a marionette). The conflict between Petroushka and the Moor is sparked by a mutual jealous love for another marionette, the Ballerina. After Petroushka dies at the hand of the Moor, the ballet comes to a close as Petroushka’s spirit suddenly appears to the onlookers, before disappearing as quickly as it came. Reanimations imagines that Petroushka had unfinished business to attend to, and thus is permitted to return to the Shrovetide Fair (the setting of Petroushka) to avenge his wrongful death and win the heart of the Ballerina. The theme upon which Reanimations is based is the (in)famous ballerina solo which appears on virtually every orchestral trumpet audition and is practiced ad nauseum by trumpet players the world over.
Reanimations opens in a fog of semi-consciousness, fragments of melodies from the ballet briefly emerging only to be subsumed again. Petroushka is suddenly reanimated with a jolt, staggering about erratically and twiching violently. After getting used to his “undead” legs, Petroushka settles down and begins remembering the events that befell him in his past life. Upon the remembrance of his death by the hand of the Moor, Petroushka flies into a rage and tears through the Shrovetide Fair on his mission of vengeance. However, he suddenly comes face to face with the object of his affection, the Ballerina. She halts his rampage in its tracks and it is revealed that the Ballerina truly loved Petroushka rather than the Moor. It is through the true love of the Ballerina that Petroushka finds redemption as his unfinished business is concluded. At this point, Petroushka finds himself transported on a whirlwind journey through the mythological Underworld where he encounters strange and terrifying beasts, daunting obstacles, and familiar figures who have gone before. Finally, Petroushka arrives at the gates of . . . Valhalla? Really?
It is presumably at this point that the trumpet player awakens from his pre-audition nightmare terrified and trembling with the last echoes of Valhalla’s gatekeepers, Brahms and Beethoven as well as Petroushka’s final triumphant cry echoing in his head.