From the Free Trade Hall, Manchester
S.B. from Manchester
THE HALLÃ‰ ORCHESTRA
Conducted by SIR HAMILTON HARTY
This evening the Halle Concert from the Manchester Free Trade Hall is being broadcast from Manchester, London and other Stations. Below are given some notes on the more important music which it is hoped will help our listeners to follow the concert with increased enjoyment.
The Fountains of Rome - Respighi
Respighiâ€™s three best-known orchestra] works all deal with his native city of Rome, with its fountains, its pines, and its church windows, so that flippant people talk of him as a 'Musical Baedeker' to the city. The 'Fountains' was the first of the three to appear, and is, not unnaturally, still the best known. It is in four movements, each of which describes for us in music one of the famous fountains, and the Suite takes us also through the whole of a Roman day.
The first movement is the Fountain of Vallo Giulia at Dawn. The music is pastoral in character, and with his mind's eye the hearer can see droves of cattle passing and fading into the cool mists of morning. The second part is still morning, and presents the Triton Fountain. It opens with resounding horn calls, over trilling figures on the rest of the orchestra, and it is easy to imagine the figures of the Fountain coming to life and joining in a laughing dance among the sparkling streams of water.
In more solemn mood, the third movement is the Fountain of Trevi at Noon. Over an undulating figure in the main body of the orchestra there is a solemn theme which is passed from the woodwinds to the brasses. Something of a triumphal note can be heard in it, and while trumpets sound, we are to fancy the sea-horses of Neptune drawing his chariot, with a train of sirens following it over the shining water. The chariot and its train pass by, and the piece ends with soft trumpet notes as if from a great distance. The fourth movement is Evening - the Fountain of the Villa Medici at Sunset. There is something of sadness in its theme, and while a pealing of bells fills the evening air, we can hear, too, the rustling leaves and the twittering of birds as they fly homeward. And as evening passes into the silence of night, the music dies away - very softly.
Suite,'The Love of the Three Oranges' Prokofieff (First time in Manchester)
This Suite is made from the music of an Opera of which the text is also by Prokofieff, one of the young revolutionary spirits in the present-day world of music. The Opera, based on a fantastic fairy tale, tells of a Prince who was dying because he had lost the power of laughing. All attempts to restore him fail, until a witch unwittingly breaks the spell about him. By way of undoing her good deed, she lays a curse upon him, to the effect that he must die unless he can win the love of one or other of three Oranges. These are, of course, Princesses under enchantment, and at the end the Prince finds one, and the tale has the usual happy ending.
The first movement is called 'The Clowns.' It comes from the first scene of the Opera, and begins with a bold theme played by woodwinds and brasses while the strings rush about in strenuous semiquavers. There is a theme like a fanfare in character, and then after more of the hurrying music from the opening, there is a gentler little tune, played by flutes and clarinets, accompanied by the strings, pizzicato. But soon the hurrying figures from the beginning return, and the movement closes boisterously with great energy.
The second movement is from a scone in the infernal regions, with the Magician Tcheli and Fata Morgana playing cards together. The movement begins with a scale figure, rising upwards, and a little later, with a change of time, there is a reiterated figure on bassoons and violoncellos which becomes the bass for some really funny effects from the orchestra. The movement rises to a loud climax, and then there is a now theme, which is afterwards reiterated beneath more grotesque effects in the upper voices of the orchestra.
The third movement is a March opening with trumpet notes, after which oboes begin the theme softly. A second tune is played first by the violins, and then the first is heard again, with the brasses added, while the strings hurry about in scales. The movement comes to an end with the whole orchestra strenuously engaged.
A very lively Scherzo follows; flutes and harp begin it, and there is a reminder of the fanfare figure from the opening movement.
The fifth movement tells of the Prince finding his Princess, and the two voices are given at first to the flute and to the viola. In striking contrast to the previous movement this one is chiefly quiet and tender in character, though the viola time has more vigour than the one on the woodwinds, which is no doubt the Princess. There is an effective little solo for the horn in the middle of the movement, and after a modified version of the first part, it closes softly.
The last movement - The Flight - is again full of vigour And vitality, and here, too, the listener will note the composer's fondness for the reiteration of a definite figure. Near the beginning there is one strongly rhythmic theme played by the whole orchestra, and it is the basis of most of the movement. Trumpets interrupt the course of it more than once, and - towards the end there is a theme interchanged between the oboe and horn; the movement ends on a note of bustle and excitement.
Falling on ears attuned to the traditional harmonies, this music must necessarily sound bizarre and strangely dissonant, but none can fail to hear its abounding vitality and its whimsical humour.
Francesca da Rimini - Tchaikovsky
The episode in the Inferno on which this work is based is the one of which Leigh Hunt speaks as 'like a lily in the mouth of Tartarus.' Familiarity with the episode in question, a quotation from which prefaces the score, would make it easier to understand Tchaikovsky's music. Francesca begins it, telling how she and Paolo read together the old tale of Launcelot.
The beginning of the music illustrates for us 'the infernal hurricane that never rests.' We are to hear also the ceaseless wandering of condemned souls and the howling winds which for ever haunt the unhappy lovers. Only after a long, stormy section do we hear the very beautiful melody describing the episode in which Francesca tells of her hapless love. It is played first by clarinet, carried on in a major strain by the higher strings, and finally taken up by the violoncellos. The horn breaks in on the end of it, and then the stormy music of the opening returns.