Please note: all concerts in the main series are held at Memorial Hall and repertoire is subject to change.
Concert 4 – Saturday, August 14, 2021 – 7:30PM
L’Aurore – Lento Assai
Danse rustique – Allegro Giocoso, Molto moderato
Composers and Compositions
Alessandro Rolla did much as a composer, to contribute to the development of technique and repertoire for the viola. As a player, he proved it could all be done.
Duo for Violin & Viola “Rossini” No.3, Op.13
This Little Duo for Violin and Viola No. 3 Op.13 uses themes from Rossini’s opera ‘La Donna del Lago’, and showcases the sparkling virtuosity of both instruments, from beginning to end.
Rigoletto Concert Paraphrase
Franz Liszt wrote more than fifty operatic paraphrases for the piano. For the basis for his Rigoletto Paraphrase, Liszt chose the famous quartet scene from the final act of the opera. It is the dramatic heart of the opera: the denouement where Rigoletto takes his daughter, Gilda, to eavesdrop on the Duke of Mantua flirting with Maddalena. Gilda is forced to face the Duke’s licentiousness, and all four characters express their different emotions in an intricate aria. Liszt opens with brief references to the characters of Maddalena and Gilda, followed by a delicate cadenza which leads into the entry of the Duke. He follows Verdi’s harmonies, but all the melodic material is embellished with pianistic virtuosity, building to a completely Lisztian climax.
Written in one night, in January 1890, Puccini’s string quartet ‘Crisantemi’ was dedicated to the memory of Prince Amadeo di Savoia, Duca d’Aosta and King of Spain, who had just died. The title refers to chrysanthemums, which in Italy were associated with funeral ceremonies and events. He later reworked the material for use in Acts III and IV of his opera ‘Manon Lescaut’.
Quartet No. 4 for Clarinet and String Trio
Much of Cesare Pugni’s smaller-scale instrumental music has been likened to that of Muzio Clementi or Joseph Haydn. His Quartets for Clarinet and String Trio, written in the late 1820’s, are lyrical, expressive, and not very technically demanding for a clarinetist. They are dedicated to Pugni’s friend, an amateur player named Vincenzo Comolli, and highlight the expressive melodic abilities of the instrument.
Sonata No. 5, Op.27
Eugene Ysaye wrote his set of six solo sonatas for violin in 1923-24. Before these pieces, the only concert repertoire for solo violin were the 3 Bach Partitas and the 24 Caprices of Paganini. Ysaye pushed violin techniques to new heights with these Sonatas. Each of them is written in honour of the style of a contemporary violinist whom he knew. This fifth Sonata was dedicated to a pupil, Mathieu Crickboom, who played in the Ysaye Quartet, and later, in a quartet of his own which included cellist Pablo Casals. The Sonata is in 2 movements, opening with a tender evocation of dawn, followed by a joyous country dance.
Alfredo Piatti was a child prodigy cellist. He premiered most of the compositions he wrote for the cello, and they embraced a wide range of styles, from traditional concerto-style, through chamber music, to instrumental stylings of folk music from many regions of Europe. He traveled widely, and spent a lot of time living and working in England.
Notturno, Op. 20
This Notturno, opus 20, was published in 1865, and echoes the bel canto style. Likely written as an encore piece, it is lyrical with very delicate phrasing.
Sicilienne, Op. 78
Gabriel Fauré first wrote his Sicilienne for an 1893 production of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, which folded before his music was ever heard. Five years later he recycled the material, firstly in his suite “Pelleas Et Melisande”, and then as a single piece, for various combinations. A delicate and perfect recital piece.
Overture to Nabucco
No festival of Italian music is complete without some opera – and it’s customary to begin with an overture. Verdi’s Nabucco was the opera which cemented his reputation as a composer. Based on several books from the Bible, and an 1836 play by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornu, it follows the plight of the Jews as they are assaulted, conquered, and exiled from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The historical events are used as a backdrop for a romantic and political plot. The opera was an immediate and sustained success, and the overture is often performed on its own in orchestral concerts around the world.
This set of Puccini arias features some of well-known soprano roles. ‘Vissi d’Arte’ from act II of Tosca, is sung by Floria Tosca as she thinks of her fate, how the life of her beloved, Mario Cavaradossi, is at the mercy of Baron Scarpia and why God has seemingly abandoned her. In ‘O Mio Babbino’, from Gianni Schicchi, we hear Lauretta after tensions between her father Schicchi and the family of Rinuccio, the boy she loves, have reached a breaking point that threatens to separate her from Rinuccio. And, from La Boheme, ‘Quando me’n vo’, also known as “Musetta’s Waltz”. Musetta sings it, in act II, hoping to reclaim the affections of her sometime boyfriend Marcello.
The concert finishes with two famous choruses, Verdi’s ‘Anvil Chorus’ or Coro di Zingari, from Il Trovatore, and ‘Libiamo ne’ lieti calici’ duet with chorus from act I of Verdi’s La Traviata. The Anvil Chorus is sung at dawn, by a troupe of gypsies, who also beat their anvils in rhythm. They are singing the praises of hard work, the beauty of the sunrise, and of Gypsy women, and the pleasures of good wine. In La Traviata, Alfredo begins the song Libiamo ne’ lieti calici at a party at Violetta’s house, in Act I, because he is in love with Violetta. His friend Gastone has convinced him to show off his voice to woo her, she joins in, as does the chorus, and they are also extolling the virtues of drinking wine or other alcoholic beverages.