THE AUGMENTED STATION ORCHESTRA, conducted by PERCY PITT CORNELIUS'S The Barber of Bagdad has never been an enormous success as an opera, but its Overture is popular as a concert piece. It has been before the public now for nearly seventy years, but there's life in it still.
Imagine what you like as you hear it: the adventures of the wonderfully accomplished Barber, with the sonorous appellation, Abu Hassan Ali Ebe Bekar, an artist with the razor and equally one with his tongue: the beautiful heroine, the daughter of the Cadi; the chest reputed to be full of rich treasure sent to this miracle of loveliness by her wealthy lover, but later reported to contain a corpse. Imagine what you like-so long as you imagine something romantic and something in the spirit of The Arabian Nights.
WILLIAM PRIMROSE (Solo Violin)
This work was first performed by the eminent Spanish Violinist, Sarasate, in 1881. It is in three movements. THE GOLDEN COCKEREL is an Opera with a purely fantastical plot which belongs to no particular time or place.
King Dodon, a lazy old monarch, fond of good living, is being worried by bellicose neighbours, who are attacking the kingdom on all sides. An Astrologer appears, and offers King Dodoa a Golden Cockerel which will warn him whenever danger threatens. The offer is accepted, and the prophetic bird perches on a tall spire and disperses orders all over the city. Dodon, relieved and satisfied, goes to bed. At the first danger signal he sends his sons to the war; at the second he decides that he'll have to go himself, after all. He does so, and instead of the enemy he finds a beautiful Queen, who fascinates him, and in the end marries him. Then the Astrologer appears and claims his reward-the Queen. Dodon strikes him dead, and the Golden Cockerel strikes down Dodon with its beak. All is confusion, darkness falls, and then the Astrologer steps before the curtain and assures us that it is only a dream.
Some see in the plot satirical allusions to Russian politics. However that may be, the music is delightful-by turns charming, piquantly exciting, gaudy, and voluptuous.
BARON FREDERIC D'ERLANGER (born 1868), one of the Directors of the Covent Garden Opera, lias himself written four Operas (including one upon Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles), besides Violin and Piano Concertos, Chamber Music, and Songs. Here is a piece with a 'programme.' This is how Weber describes the story of the music: 'At a ball a gentleman approaches a lady and asks for the pleasure of a dance. At first she hesitates; he presses; she consents. Now they converse more easily. He begins; she replies. Now for the dance! They take their places and wait for it to begin. Then follows the dance. At its close the gentleman expresses his thanks, the lady bows, and "the rest is silence." '
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