Please note: all concerts in the main series are held at Memorial Hall and repertoire is subject to change.
Thursday, August 11, 2022 – 7:30PM
Lentamente con tristezza
L’Aurore – Lento Assai
Danse rustique – Allegro Giocoso, Molto moderato
Composers and Compositions
Ferruccio Busoni / J.S.Bach
Ferruccio Busoni, a composer and a brilliant pianist and teacher, believed that Bach’s music was the foundation of a pianistic education, beginning with the Two and Three-Part Inventions and Well-Tempered Clavier, and culminating in Busoni’s own arrangements of things like the Chaconne from the Partita II for Solo Violin.
This Chaconne is challenging enough for a violinist, but what Busoni has done to it is more a transformation than a mere transcription. It sounds like a wholly new piece of music. He approached the work as creating something freely arranged, of a virtuosic nature, for concert performance on the piano. Busoni made many such “transcriptions”; not just Bach, but also Liszt and Handel, which he performed himself, to great acclaim, and which stand today as mainstays of the concert pianist’s repertoire.
La Zingara by Gaetano Donizetti, lyrics by Carlo Guaita, is one of a number of songs written in a combination of folksong and opera aria style, and is a sprightly and dramatic portrait of a young gypsy girl.
Francesco Paolo Tosti
Francesco Paolo Tosti’s early career was more about singing and teaching music; his compositions became popular and he flourished after he met the pianist and composer Giovanni Sgambati, in Rome. Tosti moved to England in 1875, and by 1880 he was the singing master to the Royal Family. His fame as a composer of songs grew rapidly while he was in England. They are light, expressive, characterized by natural, singable melodies. La Serenata (lyrics by Giovanni Alfredo Cesareo) is one of his most famous songs.
The early 1830’s saw Rossini living in Paris, and the bulk of his composing in those few years was a collection of chamber arias and duets, brought together by his publisher, under the title Les Soirees Musicales.
Number four, L’orgia, with lyrics by Count Carlo Pepoli, is a flamboyant drinking song about the joys of wine, women and song.
Luigi Arditi wrote Il Bacio in 1859, by request, for Italian soprano Maria Piccolomini. It is a stand-alone vocal waltz. He was having difficulties with the lyrics, so the story goes that his wife Virginia suggested a kiss as the subject matter, and prominent high baritone Gottardo Aldighieri wrote the lyrics.
The Serenade by Leoncavallo was written originally for cello with piano or harp accompaniment. Its sentimental melody is the essence of Italian vocal expression; listening to it one almost hears words. Many actual songs have been arranged for instrumental performance and DO have words, like Fauré’s ‘Apres un Reve’, which is another example of this kind of beautiful simplicity and how well it suits the soul of the cello. This arrangement is by cellist Werner Thomas-Mifune.
Una Furtiva Lagrima
The plot of Donizetti’s opera ‘L’Elisir d’Amore’, set in Italy in 1836, swirls around Nemorino, a young villager, who is unhappily in love with the beautiful farm owner Adina, who he thinks is beyond his reach. There is a troupe of soldiers, a traveling ‘doctor’ who sells magic love potions, jealousy, a wedding which gets delayed, more jealousy, despair, and eventually, the right boy gets the right girl. The aria ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima’ (A Furtive Tear) is sung by Nemorino towards the end of Act II, when he believes he has seen a tear of love on the cheek of his beloved Adina. This fills him with joy as he interprets it to mean she really does love him. This arrangement is by the performer, Josh Morris, and suits the warm rich tone of the cello to perfection.
Double String Quartet in D Minor, P27
Respighi’s Double Quartet dates from 1900-1901, during which time he was busy in St Petersburg, playing as first violist in the Russian Imperial Theatre, continuing to study violin in his off-time, and studying composition and orchestration with Rimsky-Korsakov. Coming just a year or so before the f minor Piano Quintet, this octet shows Respighi’s comfort with the string ensemble, gained partly from all the chamber music he had himself participated in. He did not achieve broad fame as a composer until the 1920s and later, with the big tone poems, Pines and Fountains of Rome, but this early, solid piece of chamber music stands up well alongside the String Serenade of Tchaikovsky and the octets of Mendelssohn and Enescu.