Showcase March-April 2014 - page 22

apsodie espagnole
, Ravel’s first published
orchestral work, is Spanish to the core, subtly and
brilliantly evoking the sights, sounds, colors and
physical sensations of this land. It was written in 1907
Artist
mar 22, 23
Maurice Ravel
Born:
March 7, 1875, Ciboure, Basses-Pyrénées
Died:
December 28, 1937, Paris
Rapsodie espagnole
within the space of 30 days and given its world premiere
the following year in Paris. The Spanish composer
Manuel de Falla heartily endorsed the authentic
Spanish flair in
Rapsodie espagnole
, noting that “This
‘Hispanization’ is not achieved merely by drawing upon
popular ‘folk’ sources (except in the jota in “Feria”), but
rather through the free use of the modal rhythms and
melodies and ornamental figures of our ‘popular’ music,
none of which has altered in any way the natural style of
the composer.”
The
Rapsodie
is in four movements of approximately
equal duration. The
Prélude à la nuit
opens with a
veiled, diaphanous sound resulting from the unusual
spacing of muted violins and violas. This functions as
a backdrop against which a number of small motifs
are played. The dynamic range throughout is subdued,
never rising above
mezzo forte
, and the delicacy of
r
Andrew Litton
, conductor and piano
Andrew Litton is in his 12th year as artistic director of
the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest and his 11th as
music director of the Bergen Philharmonic, which next year
celebrates its 250th anniversary. He regularly conducts this
Orchestra in subscription concerts as well as at Sommerfest,
and he has led many works here from the keyboard.
Additional posts:
He is music director of the Colorado
Symphony and conductor laureate of Britain’s Bournemouth
Symphony.
Currently:
His guest conducting engagements this season
take him from Dallas and Detroit to major orchestras in Britain,
Singapore and Taiwan. He also leads the Royal Philharmonic
on tour to Bucharest and conducts productions of the New
York City Ballet and Bergen National Opera, which he
helped found.
Honors:
In 2011 Litton was named a Knight of the
Norwegian Order of Merit, recognizing his work with the
Bergen Philharmonic. Among his additional honors is a
1997 Grammy Award.
Recording:
Litton has recorded his first solo piano album,
A Tribute to Oscar Peterson
, due for release this March.
More:
minnesotaorchestra.org, andrewlitton.com.
one-minute notes
Ravel:
Rapsodie espagnole
;
Piano Concerto in G major
Thanks to his mother’s Basque heritage, Ravel grew
up familiar with traditional Spanish music, and he drew
on this for his
Rapsodie
. An understated
Malagueña
and a seductive
Habanera
lead to a vigorous finale that
overflows with melodic invention. The G-major Piano
Concerto begins with a jazz-spiced movement, followed
by a serene
Adagio
and a mischievous
Presto
.
Britten:
Four Sea Interludes
from
Peter Grimes
This suite offers glimpses of the masterful opera Britten
set in a fishing village on the Suffolk coast, complete with
sounds of sea birds, the surf—and church bells, reflecting
a deadly conflict between villagers and an outcast.
Debussy:
La Mer
Debussy’s classic oceanic portrait recreates the feeling
of a visit to the sea. Two slower movements surround a
scherzo as a kaleidoscopic stream of musical fragments
eventually builds to a stormy, dissonant close.
22
MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA SHOWCASE
Photo: Danny Turner
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