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Relayed from THE QUEEN'S HALL, LONDON (Sole lessees, Messrs. Chappell and Co., Ltd.)
THE B.B.C. SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
(Principal First Violin, CHARLES WOODHOUSE)
Conducted by Sir HENRY WOOD
BERLIOZ was clearly attracted to the character of Benvenuto Cellini. He saw in him predominantly the artist, the man who put genius into the making of a salt-cellar, and the craftsman who would pick a quarrel sooner than sacrifice a curve in a design. Cellini the adventurer interested him enormously, while in Cellini the rogue he found so much cause for humour that he literally loved the man. The libretto of the opera is taken from Cellini's autobiography. He abducts Teresa, the daughter of a high Papal officer, he poignards an opponent, is condemned to death, but is pardoned by an enlightened lover of Cellini's art in order that he shall complete his statue of Perseus. The opera has never been successful ; it was tried in Paris in 1838 and in London in 1853. Berlioz, in despair for its success, presently made an overture out of the music of the opera and called it Carnaval Romain , as brilliant a work in its way as the statue of Perseus. The present overture starts off with a terrific burst, extraordinary music, considering it was written nearly one hundred years ago. It follows the usual course of an overture ; airs from the opera are used, including one sung by a cardinal and one sung by Cellini himself. These
. are clearly traceable from their songlike character.
AIDA, the daughter of the King of Ethiopia, is at present a slave in the retinue of the King of Egypt's daughter. She has attracted the love of Rhadames, the commander of the Egyptian army, who is about to take the offensive against the Ethiopians. Aida is torn between her love for Rhadames and her wish for his personal glory, and her duty to her father and her country, whose defeat would cause her bitter sorrow. Ritorna vincitor (Return victorious) is the song in which she appeals to Heaven to have compassion on her difficulties and to reconcile her conflicting emotions. rpHE concerto was last heard at a B.B.C.
Symphony Concert in April of this year, when Prokofiev himself played the solo part. It is remarkable for its clear-cut themes, its brittle harmonies, and its breathless, bracing, rhythm. It is as far from drawing-room, candelabra, or white-tie music as is a run on the sands before breakfast. There is a syncopated tune in the first movement that tingles like a cool breeze, a set of variations in the second like the glow after exercise, and an exhilarating third movement which sends the runner bounding home with an appetite. But first the listener must ask himself whether to run before breakfast is what he really wants to do.
DON JOSÉ, who was in the first act given charge of Carmen after her arrest in a brawl with her colleagues in the cigarette factory, and who connived at her escape on the strength of a promise that she would give him a loving welcome when he was again free to see her, has come to the inn of Lillas Pastia with a lover's hunger and a lover's hope. There Carmen receives him, dances for him, tests and teases him, and, when, hearing the bugle which calls him back to barracks, he pleads his duty and would leave her, she taunts him with being a half-hearted lover and savagely dismisses him. It is now that José makes his passionate appeal to Carmen in the ' Flower Song.' He tells her how, during all the time he was in prison, he had kept the flower Carmen had thrown to him as she was escaping, how .it had been his one solace, and how the thought of seeing Carmen again had filled his whole being. He implores her to have compassion on him and love him as he loves her.
CÉSAR FRANCK practically achieved in certain ways what Busoni, a generation later, set out to do, that is, put the new wine of modernism into the old bottles of classical forms without causing them to burst. In this symphony, in three movements instead of the usual four, the principal themes run throughout the work, linking it up as a whole. One in particular which occurs about the middle of the first move- ment, has been called ' the motive of faith.' With this symphony Cesar Franck undoubtedly influenced the French music that was to be written after him ; the sanity, the beauty and the classic nature of the work seem to have come as a breath of inspiration at a time when there seems to have been great need for them. Franck, working obscure and screened from public life in his organ-loft, achieved with this symphony the revivification of the French school.
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