Showcase Sep-Nov 2014 - page 56

As the climbers continue their journey, orchestral colors,
textures and melodies depict thickening foliage, bird
calls, yodels, waterfalls, the apparition of a water sprite,
expansive flowery meadows, herds of cattle (the idea
to use cowbells here is possibly derived from Mahler’s
Sixth Symphony), idyllic calm and beauty of the slopes,
the slippery surface of a glacier (chromatic, “sliding”
trumpet writing), the climbers transfixed by the awesome
view from the summit, haze obscuring the sun, ominous
stillness and calm before the storm, distant flashes of
lighting, isolated raindrops (oboe), thunder, the fury of a
blinding storm enhanced by a terrific explosion from the
thunder sheet at the climax, the nostalgic glow of sunset,
spiritual tranquility at the end of a fulfilling day, and
finally, the gloom of night once more as the noble mass of
the mountain recedes into darkness and memory,
24 hours after we first encountered it.
4 flutes (2 doubling piccolo),
3 oboes (1 doubling English horn), heckelphone,
3 clarinets (1 doubling bass clarinet), E-flat clarinet,
4 bassoons (1 doubling contrabassoon), 8 horns
(4 doubling Wagner tubas), 4 trumpets, 4 trombones,
2 tubas, timpani, snare drum, bass drum, triangle,
cymbals, glockenspiel, tam-tam, cowbells,
wind machine, thunder sheet, celesta, organ, 2 harps,
offstage brass ensemble and strings
Program notes by
Robert Markow
something; and then it is program music.” The listener is
of course free to listen to the
Alpine Symphony
as he or
she chooses: as a succession of landscapes and weather
conditions in sound, as the composer’s artistic affirmation
of Nature, as a metaphor of Life as a mountain which
Man must climb, or in any other way one might like.
Listeners will have little difficulty identifying the various
scenes and events as they pass by. Nevertheless, a few
remarks may be helpful.
The deep silence of
is heard in thick, dark,
B-flat minor chords; at times every note of the scale is
being sustained. Against this opaque sound, low brass
instruments present the first of many statements of a
solemn chordal theme suggesting the massive, imposing
mountain in all its stern majesty.
uses as its
melodic material a bright, A-major derivation of the
descending minor scale from the
When the climbers begin their ascent, another principal
theme, strongly rhythmic, is heard at the
of lower strings, climbs to successively higher levels,
and is worked out in elaborate counterpoint. A hunting
party is heard in the distance, represented by an off-stage
brass ensemble. (Strauss surely got this idea from similar
scenes in Wagner’s
Tristan und Isolde
Program Notes
24, 25
Strauss outside his villa in Garmisch-Partenkirchen; in the background is the landscape that inspired
An Alpine Symphony
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