On tonight's show:
DU Lamont School of Music
Charley anticipates the DU Lamont School Faculty Recital tomorrow. One of the artists involved, Alice Rybak, visited our Performance Studio.
Ludwig van Beethoven: “Allegro assai” (1st movement) from Violin Sonata No. 8 in G major, Op.30 No. 3
Henryk Wieniawski: Variations on an Original Theme, Op.15
Linda Wang, violin; Alice Rybak, piano
KVOD Performance Studio: Recorded 2/13/07 by Martin Skavish.
Program Notes by Charley Samson, copyright 2010.
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937): Mother Goose Suite
I. Pavane of the Sleeping Beauty
II. Hop-o' My Thumb
III. The Ugly Little Girl, Empress of the Pagodas
IV. Conversation of Beauty and the Beast
V. The Fairy Garden
Mother Goose was written in 1908 as a five-movement suite for piano duet. Based on the fairy tales of Charles Perrault, the work was originally intended for Ravel's two young friends, Mimi and Jean Godebski. The children baulked at giving the first public performance, so Jeanne Leleu and Genevieve Durony, aged six and ten, both pupils of Marguerite Long, introduced the work on April 20, 1910. The following year Ravel orchestrated all five pieces and added new ones to form a ballet. This version was first performed on January 28, 1912. He then made an orchestral suite from the ballet.
Like the original piano duet, the ballet suite has five sections. The opening ``Pavane of the Sleeping Beauty'' refers to the famous beauty who fell asleep for a hundred years, waiting for Prince Charming to awaken her with a kiss.
The second section, ``Tom Thumb'' or ``Hop-o' My Thumb,'' is perhaps best explained by quoting Perrault's original: ``He believed that he would have no difficulty in finding his way by means of the bread crumbs that he had strewn wherever he had passed; but he was greatly surprised when he could not find a single crumb; the birds had eaten them all.''
The middle section, ``The Empress of the Pagodas,'' refers to an ugly little girl, a former princess transformed by a wicked witch, who meets a huge Green Serpent (a former handsome prince, also transformed by a wicked witch). The pair make a sea voyage together, finally landing in the country of the Pagodas, tiny people made of porcelain. The Green Serpent, it turns out, used to be king of the porcelain people. Both ugly little girl and Green Serpent are transformed back to their former selves, get married, and....
Ravel's music in this section describes only one incident in the saga of the ugly little girl. As Perrault puts it, "she undressed herself and went into the bath. The Pagodas and Pagodines began to sing and play on instruments; some had theorbos made of walnut shells; some had violas made of almond shells, for they were obliged to proportion the instruments to their figure.'"
The fourth section is titled "Conversation of Beauty and the Beast."' Beauty tries to build up Beast's confidence. Thus emboldened, Beast proposes. Beauty at first declines, but then takes pity on him. At the very moment that she accepts, he is transformed into yet another handsome prince.
The final section, "The Fairy Garden,'" depicts the actual kiss from Prince Charming that awakens Sleeping Beauty. They plan to get married, and....
The work is scored for piccolo, 2 flutes, English horn, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 2 horns, celesta, harp, glockenspiel, timpani, triangle, cymbals, bass drum, tan-tam, xylophone and strings.
"It would be rather a good idea if you wrote something for Lionel Tertis,'" Sir Thomas Beecham told Walton in 1928. A year later the Viola Concerto was finished. "When it was completed," Walter recalled, "I sent it to Tertis, who turned it down sharply by return of post, which depressed me a good deal as virtuoso violists were scarce.''
Walton wondered if he should convert the work into a violin concerto and try again. Meanwhile Edward Clark, of the BBC music section, sent the score to Paul Hindemith, who agreed to play the Concerto at a Henry Wood Promenade concert.
Hindemith's publisher, Willy Strecker, was furious. He had planned to launch Hindemith as viola soloist at the prestigious Courtauld-Sargent concerts, and fired off a note to Hindemith's wife, Gertrude: "Your husband should make himself harder to get. An appearance with Wood to play a concerto by a moderately gifted English composer--and that is what Walton is--is not a fitting debut.'"
According to Walton's wife, Susana, "Paul Hindemith played William's concerto for the best possible reason--because he liked it....Playing William's concerto endeared Hindemith to the British public more than any number of Courtauld-Sargent concerts would have done."
The concert took place on October 3, 1929, with Walton conducting. Lionel Tertis was there. According to the composer, "Tertis was completely won over, and he played the work whenever he had the chance."
Biographer Frank Howes describes the Viola Concerto as "the most characteristic expression of his mind. Each of its three movements is strongly defined, and they contain between them most of the idioms, stylistic tricks of speech, the peculiar dynamism and the sharp orchestration that are the superficially recognizable features of his work. But their basic unity is unusually marked....The longest movement comes last and gathers into its more ample enbrace the conclusions of the first two movements....You will hardly find him recapitulating a theme strictly and his tunes might be called Protean or Bergsonian with equal justice; they turn up in many different forms and they recreate themselves as they proceed. But the organic unity of the whole is forcibly brought home to the listener."
Walton revised the Concerto in 1961.