FALLA & ESPANA

Thursday, April 13, 2017                           8:00 PM       Jones Hall
Friday, April 14, 2017                                8:00 PM       Jones Hall
Saturday, April 15, 2017                           8:00 PM       Jones Hall

Program 

Chabrier:

 

España       

[6]

Castelnuovo-Tedesco:

 

Cello Concerto, Opus 72  

I. Sostenuto ed appassionato

II. Allegretto gentile

III. Vivo e impetuoso

[33]

 

 

                   INTERMISSION

 

Falla:

 

El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat) 

Introduction:  Allegro ma non troppo—

Part I

Afternoon:  Allegretto mosso—

Dance of the Miller’s Wife (Fandango):  Allegro ma non troppo—

The Grapes:  Vivo

Part II

The Neighbor’s Dance (Seguidillas):  Allegro ma non troppo

The Miller’s Dance (Farruca):  Poco vivo—moderato assai—

The Corregidor’s Dance:  Allegretto

Final Dance (Jota):  Poco mosso—Allegro ritmico, molto moderato e pesante

[38]


Program Notes


España

Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894)

Emmanuel Chabrier’s gifts as a composer and virtuoso pianist appeared in his youth, but family tradition demanded that he study law, and the budding artist complied. For 19 years, Chabrier worked as a French civil servant, relegating music to his off-duty hours. Nevertheless, his vivacious operettas and other works gained him attention and won him artistic friends. One of them, poet Paul Verlaine, wrote a sonnet titled To Emmanuel Chabrier, which saluted the “glowing ring of attraction and amiable comfort” that enveloped the composer and his circle.

At age 39, Chabrier bid adieu to his government job and took a long trip to Spain with his wife. When he returned home, geared up to become a full-time composer, his impressions inspired the zesty España. It began as a piano piece he soon arranged for orchestra, yielding the glittery showpiece that now is Chabrier’s best-known work.

España’s opening evokes the guitar’s gusto, but the orchestra magnifies it beyond anything a guitarist could summon. Plucked strings tap out a syncopated rhythm. Within moments, a few of the winds join in, intensifying the pulse. The harps and yet more winds add buoyant cross-play, and the music swirls and swells as the rest of the orchestra jumps in.

After a brisk fortissimo cadence, Chabrier finally gives us a melody. Light and crisp, it bubbles up from trumpet and bassoon. A solo French horn soon takes over, and the entire orchestra lustily joins the dance.

España has mostly been clipped and staccato to this point, so the bassoons and French horns make an impact when they sing out a full-throated melody that builds to a flamboyant upward surge. The trumpets and oboe fire back with a brisk, swaggering tune, and one of España’s most distinctive episodes comes as four bassoons step forth with a bustling theme that Chabrier marks “playful and always impetuous.” When the bassoons rumble up from the depths as a flourish, they push the music’s rowdiness to its peak. The musical fiesta gains more participants by ways of a chattering tune that bounces between the violins and the winds, a sleek violin melody and a swaggering theme from the brasses. As all these catchy tunes vie for the spotlight, España surges to its jubilant finish.

The Instruments: 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 4 bassoons, 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 2 harps, percussion and strings

 

Cello Concerto, Opus 72

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968)

The concerto form resonated with Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Composing for a solo instrument with orchestra, he wrote in an essay, helped him express his “personal feeling in relation to the world”—an attitude based on his “confidence in life.”

Concertos he wrote for two iconic musicians—violinist Jascha Heifetz and guitarist Andrés Segovia—helped launch Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s career. Soon after that, he created his cello concerto for the Russian virtuoso Gregor Piatigorsky. In the composer’s autobiography, which is being translated by musicologist James Westby, he saluted the Russian virtuoso by declaring that “his sound is a rare beauty, his technique is prodigious, his warmth is irresistibly communicated.”

The concerto demands all those qualities, and it also embodies Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s confidence in life. In its opening movement and finale, turbulence and brooding give way to optimism.

Though the orchestra’s color and atmosphere enrich the concerto, the cello is clearly the protagonist. Entering alone, the soloist flings out the vehement main theme, which will undergo many changes of mood as the first movement unfolds. The orchestra soon adds some of its deepest sonorities, including those of the trombones and double basses.

After the rest of the orchestra comes into play, the opening theme begins to evolve, and the cello gives it a gentler cast. But the music rouses as the soloist introduces a snappy, march-like theme at which the opening solo hinted. Then lyricism appears, in the form of a melody whose downward contours help lend it soulfulness and impact. As these themes interact, the movement passes through pensiveness, intensity and drama, climaxing in the cello’s cadenza, replete with bold gestures and biting chords. After the orchestra re-enters, softer sounds emerge, the music shifts to a major key, and the cello soars to a serene finish.

The second movement picks up on the luminous aura. It begins with the gleam of woodwinds, harp and celesta. The lilt of the cello’s melody launches a graceful, airy dance. A melody with more yearning comes into the picture, first from the cello, and then from the lush string section. But the music’s gentle swing returns.

An orchestral outburst launches the finale, and the cello quickly steps in with another big, dramatic solo. After taking a more lyrical turn, it builds up to the bold, bounding theme that propels the finale. The orchestra adds its own gusto. Then the cello brings back the restless melody from its solo, which the orchestra’s weight makes even more compelling. The vigor returns, and the cello part gains a new ardor that leads to a shining, major-key finish.

The Instruments: 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn,2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, 2 harps, celesta and strings

 

El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat)

Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

Manuel de Falla helped pioneer the combination of his native Spain’s dance and vocal music with classical traditions. In 1913, he landed a choir assignment: Sergei Diaghilev, the Russian impresario who commissioned Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and other now-historic works, tapped him for a ballet on a Spanish subject. They picked The Corregidor and the Miller’s Wife, a comic tale about a small-town magistrate who gets his comeuppance when he woos a woman who wants no part of him. The ballet’s title came from the corregidor’s three-cornered hat.

After a trumpets-and-drums fanfare, a singer’s flamenco-tinged solo hints at the events to come: “Little wife, secure your door! The devil may now be sleeping, but you can be sure he will awaken!” The strings’ murmuring, dry tone—created by playing ponticello, with the bows stroking the strings near the bridge that supports them—evokes a sun-baked day. In an opening vignette, the couple teach their blackbird to announce the time. You’ll hear its chirps come from the piccolo and solo violin. The hot-day music returns, followed by two themes that represent the miller and his wife. The first is a surge of melody from the violins, now playing arco, and the second is a springy, staccato theme in the bass range. Their ardor and energy help animate the ballet.

A little march led by the strings heralds the corregidor, promenading down the street. The miller and his wife return to work. But the corregidor, who has noticed the miller’s wife, tiptoes back, as represented by a solo bassoon, the corregidor’s musical avatar throughout the ballet. After the miller’s wife dances a spirited fandango, the lumbering bassoon describes the corregidor approaching her. The music grows breezy and playful as she eludes him, and Act 1 ends as she celebrates running him off.

Act 2 takes place that evening. The miller and his wife join their neighbors in a buoyant, airy dance, then a ringing French horn solo announces the miller’s turn in the spotlight. The orchestra’s pounding rhythms conjure up the stamping of heels against the floor, and the oboe introduces a more sensual turn. The closing barrage of fortissimo chords mimics a dancer’s accelerating finish. Soon, trouble arrives: Listen for the French horns’ tongue-in-cheek quote of the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. A weighty, rugged theme represents the town constable, who hauls the miller to jail on the corregidor’s orders.

The singer again hints at what’s coming: “In the night the cuckoo sings, warning husbands to secure their latches, for the devil is vigilant.” With the miller locked, the corregidor—again announced by the furtive bassoon—returns for another try at the miller’s wife. The antics, including mistaken identities, are too complicated to recount. But the music vividly describes the agitation, excitement and fun, including a crashing fortissimo when the corregidor falls into the mill stream. A swaggering final dance celebrates his defeat.

The Instruments: 3 flutes (2 doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, piano (doubling celesta) and strings — Steven Brown

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