THE BIRMINGHAM STUDIO AUGMENTED ORCHESTRA
(Leader, FRANK CANTELL )
Conducted by JOSEPH LEWIS
THE Sea Pictures are five lyrics by various X authors set to music for contralto and orchestra by Sir Edward Elgar , and brought together as one ' cycle.' They are also brought together by the delicate, remote feeling of the poems, which have the sea more as a background than as a spectacular object, and by the sensitive, thoughtful music. Sabbath Morn at Sea tings of the hymn of the waters and the skies eo their Creator.
The Swimmer, a vivid seascape, gives us a swimmer's glimpse of'a grim grey coast and a sea-board ghastly,' and expresses his aspirations to ride the ' brave white horses.'
... as never a man has ridden.....
To gulfs foreshadow'd through strifes forbidden,
Where no light wearies and no love wanes....
In this song are reminiscences of themes from the first and third songs of the set.
IT was odd to give the name ' phæton ' to the elegant light carriage in which ladies used to take the air in the park. The original chariot or phæton—a car of fire-was a very different vehicle. The youth Phaeton, having been allowed by his father, the Sun, to drive the fiery chariot, lost control of the steeds. The fiamig car was in danger of sotting the earth on fire, when Jupiter hurled a thunder. bolt, saving the universe but destroying Phseton.
This is the legend which
Saint-Saens illustrates in his orchestral piece.
A dignified introduction of four bars prepares us for the magnificent scene of Phaeton's ride. The galloping horses are heard, and a bold, imperious theme on the Trumpets and Trombones presumably stands for the youthful ardour of the charioteer.
A broadly melodious passage, played by four Horns, may suggest either the Sun or the lament of Phæton's sister, who had harnessed the horses, and so had a part in the disastrous adventure. The pace increases and the excitement is worked up. Phseton's theme is heard agitatedly, and then the thunderbolt falls, and tho end comes with the Sun's lament for Phæton.
WE should be sorry to lose such lovely tunes as the Londonderry Air, in which everybody delights, and Stanford's way of keeping such things in memory was a good one. He wrote a number of orchestral pieces, each founded on two or three folk tunes of his native Ireland.
This First Irish Rhapsody brings in an ancient tune, Lsatherbags Donnell , to which the warriors once marched to battle, and then the well-known Londonderry Air, just spoken of-probably a tender love song of the far-off days.