Pietro Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana

The opera Cavalleria rusticana is musically gorgeous, dramatically gripping, slyly inventive, and historically significant. “It was like a door that suddenly blew open onto a sealed room. A fresh, cool wind from the country blew away the faint smell of mildew,” remembered one Italian critic.

Maurice Ravel: Introduction et allegro

Maurice Ravel’s Introduction et allegro is really a little harp concerto commissioned by the Érard instrument company in response to a competitor, Pleyel, commissioning Claude Debussy’s similar Danse sacrée et danse profane. The two companies were engaged in harp war, each championing a different technology.