Showcase January-February 2015 - page 41

12, 13, 14
Program Notes
a work of extraordinary difficulty, demanding virtuoso
playing from everyone involved.
part I.
Hindemith marks the opening movement
Moderately fast, with strength
and begins with a fierce
C-sharp stamped out by trumpets, trombones and strings.
After the fundamental themes are introduced, Hindemith
divides his forces. The brass develop those opening
ideas and fall silent while the strings take over. Finally
Hindemith re-combines his forces and concludes with a
grand restatement of the principal theme played in unison
by the strings and punctuated by brass chords.
part II.
The concluding movement is in ternary form in
a fast-slow-fast sequence. The beginning, marked
opens with three sharp rising chords, a pattern that will
recur throughout. Strings rip ahead on a blistering rush
of 16th-notes, soon set off by a lighthearted melody
for racing violins. Hindemith marks the middle section
and specifies that it should be
very tender
. Here
strings sing a dark and solemn melody, quickly taken
up by the brass. At the end, Hindemith goes back to his
opening tempo, combines all his forces and drives the
Concert Music to an exciting conclusion that ends as
the entire orchestra stamps out a unison D-flat, which is
(enharmonically) exactly the point at which the music
had begun 18 minutes earlier.
4 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones,
tuba and strings
E. B.
Maurice Ravel
March 7, 1875, Ciboure, Basses-Pyrénées
December 28, 1937, Paris
Suite No. 2 from Daphnis and Chloe
n 1909 the impresario Serge Diaghilev brought
the Ballets Russes to Paris as part of his ongoing
presentation of things Russian (art, sculpture, icons,
opera and ballet) in the City of Lights, and that summer
Diaghilev approached Ravel and asked him for a score.
The French composer, then 34, could not have had more
distinguished collaborators: Diaghilev oversaw the project,
Mikhail Fokine was choreographer, Leon Bakst designed
the sets, and Vaclav Nijinsky and Tamara Karsavina would
dance the lead roles.
gentle story, stormy collaboration
But it proved a stormy collaboration. For the subject,
Diaghilev proposed the gentle love story of Daphnis and
Chloe, a pastoral by the Greek Longus (fourth or fifth
century B.C.). A young man and woman, abandoned
as infants by their respective parents and raised by a
shepherd and a goatherd, meet and fall in love. She is
kidnapped by pirates but rescued by the intercession of the
god Pan, and the ballet concludes with general rejoicing.
The story seems simple enough, but quickly the collaborators
were at odds. Part of the problem was that while Bakst
had conceived an opulent oriental setting for the ballet,
Ravel imagined “a vast musical fresco, less thoughtful
of archaism than of fidelity to the Greece of my dreams,
which identifies quite willingly with that imagined and
depicted by late 18th-century French artists.” Paintings
of the verdant sets suggest that Ravel’s conception—
described by Madeline Goss as “a typically 18th-century
atmosphere of Watteau shepherdesses”—finally prevailed.
“into our hearts like a comet”
premiere was conducted by Pierre Monteux
at the Châtelet Théâtre on June 8, 1912. The ballet
had an overwhelming impact. Poet and dramatist Jean
Cocteau, then only 23, asserted: “
Daphnis et Chloé
is one
of the creations which fell into our hearts like a comet
coming from a planet, the laws of which will remain to us
forever mysterious and forbidden.”
Ravel drew two suites from the ballet for concert
performance. The familiar Suite No. 2 constitutes the
closing celebration of the ballet. Rippling flutes and
clarinets echo the sound of rivulets as Daphnis awakes
and the sun comes up. This glorious music is derived
from the soaring horn melody heard at the very beginning
of the ballet. Chloe appears, and the joyful lovers are
united. Told that Pan had saved her in memory of the
nymph Syrinx, Daphnis and Chloe now act out that tale in
pantomime, and Daphnis mimes playing on reeds, a part
taken in the orchestra by an opulent flute solo. The two
collapse into each other’s arms and pledge their love. The
stage is filled with happy youths, whose
Danse générale
brings the ballet to a thrilling conclusion.
3 flutes (2 doubling piccolo),
alto flute, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet,
E-flat clarinet, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns,
4 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum,
castanets, cymbals, tambourine, glockenspiel,
snare drum, triangle, celeste, 2 harps and strings
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