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WINIFRED DAVIS (Mezzo-Soprano)
NORMAN Williams (Bass)
THE WIRELESS MILITARY BAND
Conducted by B. WALTON O'DONNELL
HIMSELF no sea-farer, Wagner yet contrives, in The Flying Dutchman, to present a very vivid picture of the sea and ships. He had read Heine's version of the old story of Vanderdecken and was already scheming to write an opera on the subject, when he made the acquaintanco of the North Sea in one of its grim and angry moods. He has recorded his own impressions of the journey : ' I shall never forget the voyage ; it lasted three weeks and a half..... The legend of the Flying Dutchman was confirmed by the sailors, and the circumstances gave it a definite and characteristic colour in my mind.'
In its original form, the opera was ' A
Dramatic Ballad,' to bo performed without a break. On its first performance, however, at Dresden, in 1843, it was divided, in accordance with convention, into throe acts, and for many years was always played in that form. The restoration to its original design is due to the late Sir Charles Stanford and the pupils of the Royal College, who performed it at tho Lyceum Theatre in London as Wagner originally intended. The result was so entirely successful that Bayreuth adopted it for performance there in 1901, and again in 1902, on the lines originally laid down by its composer.
The overture, forming, as it does, a concise epitome of the drama, is really an expansion of Senta's Ballad, which, in itself, embodies the whole germ of the story. It opens with the wild theme of the Dutchman's dread destiny, and storm and angry seas are vividly presented; the beautiful subject which portrays Senta, announced by the Cor Anglais , is also unmistakable.
ALTHOUGH we remember him best as a composer for the stage, and one who understood his own musical public as very few composers have done, Massenet left some purely orchestral music which is hardly less popular than his operas. And among them this Suite has always hold a favourite place. Though popular in the best sense, the music is thoroughly sound in workmanship, and full of that sensitive grace which makes French music so easy to enjoy. The claim which he makes in the name of these Scenes is no idle one ; if any music was ever picturesque, it certainly is. The names of the four movements are sufficient clue to the scenes they would set before us.
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