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National Sunday League


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Relayed from the London Palladium
Conducted by Dr. MALCOLM SARGENT
LIKE more than one of his gifted compatriots,
Rimsky-Korsakov began his career as a musician from the amateur's point of view. Born in that class of Russian Society whose sons have a choice of only two careers, ho was a sailor until his thirtieth year. Even after his fine musicianship had earned him the appointment of Professor of Composition in the St. Petersburg Conservatoire, he carried on its duties for some time without relinquishing his rank on the active list of the Navy. That there is nothing amateurish in his musical equipment is by now very clearly recognized. He is known as one of the most brilliant members of the modern Russian school, whose work combines something of Eastern gorgeousness with the sombro traits of the Slav character. Oriental subjects always had a strong fascination for him, and in the Suite to be played this evening the East. with its blazing sunshine and its brilliance of colour, is vividly presented in the music.
The subject is, of course, from the Arabian
Nights, and the composer prefaced his score with the following note :—
' The Sultan Schahriar , convinced of the infidelity of the whole race of women, has sworn to send each of his wives to death after only one bridal night. But Scheherezado saves her life by interesting him in tales which she recounts one after another for one thousand and one nights. Impelled by curiosity, the Sultan puts off from day to day the fate of the lady, and ends, as all the world knows, by renouncing his blood-thirsty intention.'
The four stories which are used aa subjects in the several movements in the Suite are :-
1. The Sea and Sinbad's Vessel.
2. The Story of the Prince.
3. The Young Prince and the Young Princess.
4. Fete at Bagdad. The Sea.
The ship is wrecked against the rock surmounted by the Warrior of Brass. Conclusion.
Tho first one begins with a robust tune which obviously indi. cates th& furious Sultan. The running phrase on' the violin, which follows, is clearry Scheherezado herself, and then a tranquil section in 6-4 time is the telling of the story. The wrath of the Sultan is heard again, and Schcherezade's seductive pleading, both mingling with the story in a very interesting way, and at the very end a soft presentment of the Sultan's theme tells us that for the moment, at least, the lady has won.
In like manner, the other movements illustrate the tales with which listeners must all be familiar, so that further detailed analysis is hardly necessary. It is interesting, however, to note the reappearance, particularly in the fourth movement, of the tunes of the angry Sultan and the pleading Schelierezade. It is her tuno which triumphs at the end, after we have heard the Sultan's theme in a much gentler form than at first.
CHABRIER, best known as the composer of the brilliant' Spanish Rhapsody,' had more than a fair share of the ill-fortune which so often dogs the steps of genius. His opera, Le Roi Malgre Lui (The King in spite of Himself), cast in a rather old-fashioned form, was given with success at the Opera-Comique in 1887. But after only three performances the theatre was burned down, and though the opera was afterwards revived, it has never won the popu-larity which its brilliance, its spontaneity, and its exuberant humour deserve.
Although he began his career as an amateur, Chabrier achieved a real mastery over the materials of music, and may well bo regarded as one of the founders of the modern French school.
This Polish Festival, taken from the ill-fated opera, begins with a rhythmic outburst, punctuated by silences, and then an energetic dance theme appears. It comes to an end with a long, silent pause, and after several brief interchanges of swift-moving and slower tempo, there is a three-in-the-bar section, suggesting the traditional Polish Mazurka. It is set forth at some length with more than one melody of its own, and after a reminder of the opening, a still more lively dance movement brings the piece to its boisterous close.
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National Sunday League

2LO London, 6 January 1929 15.15

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