February 13, 2014
Music is front and center in the Winter Olympics from the opening ceremonies to the figure skating programs that are one of the games’ major draws. Here are some highlights from the Sochi Games.
1. Olympics Theme (“Summon the Heroes”) by John Williams; Boston Pops Orchestra, John Williams, conductor.
Familiar to all American couch potatoes, er, TV viewers, this piece was written for the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles, and has been in use by NBC ever since.
2. “All the Things She Said” by Tatu, off the album Belle.
Russian pop was not much in evidence at the opening ceremonies except for this song as the Russian athletes marched in. The lyrics, about a lesbian relationship, were especially timely, given the attention given to Russia’s anti-homosexuality laws in the run-up to the Olympics.
3. Introduction, The Rite of Spring (Stravinsky); New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein, conductor.
The opening ceremonies featured a tour of Russian classical music, including this famous bit, which Stravinsky once likened to the eruption of spring thaw out of the Russian winter.
4. “Gliding Dance of the Polovtsian Maidens” from Prince Igor (Borodin).
Ironically, in Borodin’s opera Prince Igor, the Polovtsii are a tribe destined to be conquered by the Russians. But these dances have become an identifier of Russianness now.
5. Waltz (“My Sweet and Tender Beast”) by Eugen Doga.
For the beautiful segment of the opening ceremony dealing with 19th-century Russia, ballet stars Svetlana Zakharova and Vladimir Vasiliev danced a scene from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace to this delicate waltz.
6. Masquerade: A Waltz by Aram Khatchaturian; State Symphony Orchestra of St. Petersburg.
Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov were the high scorers in the pairs figure skating short program, which they performed to this waltz. They went on to take the gold.
7. “Black Magic Woman” by Carlos Santana, off the album Abraxas.
Marissa Cantelli and Simon Schnapir only placed ninth in the pairs skate, but they have excellent taste in music, which can’t be said of all the competitors.
8. “Jamaican Bobsled Chant” from the movie Cool Runnings.
The Jamaican bobsledders are back this year. They must have been practicing in between viewings of this movie about their exploits in the 1988 Calgary games.
9. Finale from The Firebird (Stravinsky); Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Igor Stravinsky, conductor
A Russian storybook ending for a fantastic Olympics?