Concert: The programme will include:
SCHUBERT Symphony no. 3 in D major
DE FALLA Suite no. 1 - The Three-cornered Hat
FRANCK Psalm 150
Conductor James Ross
Tickets £17.50, £12.00 and £8.00 (under 18s £9.00, £6.00 and £4.00)
Tickets may be purchased from the Haslemere Hall Box Office (Tel: 01428 642161) or through the Hall website (usual booking fee applies).
Franz Schubert (1797-1828), Symphony No.3 in D
I: Adagio maestoso – Allegro con brio
III: Menuetto (vivace) – Trio – Menuetto
IV: Presto vivace
Schubert’s Third Symphony was composed in 1815 when the composer was eighteen years old. Its four movements are full of youthful exuberance, charm, and intimations in miniature of the wide emotional range explored further in his later music. The closest model for Schubert’s six early symphonies is Haydn rather than Beethoven, but Schubert’s distinctive charm and lyricism is already unmistakable. The first movement’s slow introduction presents concisely the music’s principal ideas and moods, before the clarinet initiates the allegro con brio section’s spirited main theme; the first full orchestral statement has more than a reminiscence of Mozart’s ‘Paris’ Symphony, also in the key of D major, a link deepened when this idea returns with the higher and lower instruments imitating each other. The second subject, introduced by the oboe, is no less lively; a fragment from this melody then dominates a more dramatic Romantic-sounding development section before the original ideas return, sweeping along to a grand conclusion.
The graceful second movement also features a boisterous clarinet solo at its centre; a short hint of Schubert’s later string quintet is audible in the first violins soon afterwards. The minuet is anything but graceful: with its powerful third-beat accents, it is a rumbustuous explosion of sound, with powerful third-beat accents; it frames a ländler-style ‘trio’ section: a lilting duet for oboe and bassoon. The tarantella-inspired finale is even faster, with Schubert playfully imitating Rossinian high spirits.
Manuel de Falla, (1876-1946): Scenes and Dances: The Three-Cornered Hat
Introduction (fanfare) – Afternoon, Dance of the Miller’s Wife (Fandango) -
The Corregidor – The Miller’s Wife – The Grapes
During World War One, Spanish composer Manuel de Falla wrote a pantomime ballet, The Magistrate and the Miller’s Wife, after Pedro de Alarcón’s Andalusian novella of 1874, El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat). The work was scored for chamber ensemble, reflecting wartime economy, and first performed in 1917.
Sergei Diaghilev, Director of the Ballets Russes, was at the première and commissioned Falla to expand his work into a two-act ballet. Re-named after the original novella, it was first performed at London’s aptly chosen Alhambra Theatre in July 1919. The production team was extraordinary with choreography by Massine and costumes and sets by Picasso – his first ballet commission. Diaghilev asked Falla to conduct, but after one rehearsal the composer felt insufficiently experienced to handle the work’s complexity and handed the baton to Ernest Ansermet.
Alarcón’s novella, which also inspired Hugo Wolf’s only opera, Der Corregidor (1894) is set in Granada. Don Eugenio, a lascivious corregidor (regional magistrate) whose authority is symbolised by the eponymous hat, has sets his eyes on the spirited Frasquita, the wife of Lucas, the local miller. The couple plot to foil his advances, but the corregidor tries an array of cunning plans to get his way, with resultant moonlight flits, clothes swapping, mistaken identities and slapstick. Eventually Don Eugenio is trapped and humiliated, ending the ballet being tossed by the townsfolk in a blanket. In 1921 Falla fashioned two orchestral suites from the score: the ‘Scenes and Dances’ is the first, and uses music from the first half of the ballet.
The scenario emphasises the surreal and ridiculous (‘As the curtain rises the miller is trying to teach a pet blackbird to tell the time…’): the score is suffused with melodies and rhythms of traditional folk music from Falla’s native Andalusia, and moments of parody and pastiche from past centuries. Spanish inspiration is mixed with sophistication Falla gained while in Paris between 1907 and 1914, absorbing the language of Dukas, Debussy and Ravel to create a rich and distinct musical world.
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924), Requiem, op.48
I. Introit and Kyrie II. Offertory III. Sanctus IV. Pie Jesu
V. Agnus Dei VI. Libera Me VII. In Paradisum
Fauré’s Requiem is as original as it is popular. It conflicts with conventional expectations of a ‘Mass for the Dead’, perpetuated in the dramatic settings of Mozart, Berlioz and Verdi, with their apocalyptic visions of death and judgement. Only in the ‘Dies irae’ of the sixth movement does the music become overtly dramatic, yet even this is contained within the eloquent pleading of the solo baritone’s ‘Libera Me’ prayer for absolution from sin. The conventional ‘Benedictus’, which normally follows the ‘Agnus Dei’, is omitted; it concludes with the burial antiphon ‘In Paradisum’. In an interview given in 1902, Fauré explained his motivation:
It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, as aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience. … Perhaps I have sought instinctively to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ! I know it all by heart. I wanted to write something different.
The Requiem’s first version dated from 1888, had only five movements, and used a small orchestra which excluded violins, woodwind and brass instruments, with the final version with larger orchestra first performed in 1902. The original inspiration was a combination of the death of Fauré’s mother and the requirements of the fashionable Madeleine Church in Paris, where he was choirmaster. The ‘Pie Jesu’ solo was intended for a boy treble (Louis Aubert), and the soprano chorus line taken by the children of Fauré’s choir. The music shows the influence of Gregorian chant combined with Fauré’s exquisite sense of harmonic colour and word-painting. Fauré is able to emphasise moments of importance in the text with apparent effortlessness, not least the word ‘Requiem’, with which the work begins and ends.
César Franck (1822-1890), Psalm 150
Psalm 150 is described by the Authorised Version of the Bible as ‘an exhortation to praise God with all kinds of instruments’. Franck’s setting was composed in 1888 for the inauguration of the great Cavaillé-Coll organ at the National Institute for Blind Students in Paris. The Institute was an important part of the city’s musical life, and its chorus and orchestra performed concerts to a high standard. The music’s monumental style is at times reminiscent of Bruckner, whom Franck had heard play at Notre-Dame in 1869. Like his Austrian colleague, Franck combines sophisticated and daring harmonies with an expressive power born out of direct religious conviction.