The Birmingham Studio Augmented Orchestra
Leader, Frank Cantell
Conducted by Joseph Lewis
There is something very attractive in the virile rhythm and gay colours of Spanish native melodies. A good many modern composers have made effective use of the idioms of these Southern folk-songs and dances.
Edward Lalo, a Frenchman (1823-92), was a great admirer of the Spanish violinist. Sarasate, and wrote for him a Violin Concerto and this Spanish Symphony. Spanish music seen through a Frenchman's eyes naturally takes on additional grace and suavity, perhaps losing a little of its native ruggedness in the process.
The work is really a Suite, not a Symphony. It has five Movements, of which we are to hear four - a quick Movement, a second in Scherzo style, an Intermezzo, and a Rondo.
TCHAIKOVSKY said of his Pathetic Symphony: JL ' I love it as I have never loved one of my musical offspring before.' It was the last Symphony he wrote. He died a fortnight after its first performance.
The second movement, which has a graceful and unusual rhythm of five beats in a bar, falls into three sections-1st Section (note how the First Main Tune is given to the Violoncellos and then a second Tune is given to the Violins, afterwards taken up by the Woodwind, whilst the Violins decorate the score with scales) ; 2nd Section - softer and more sedate ; 3rd Section - like the first.
The third movement, rapid and very lively, takes the rather uncommon form (for a Symphonic Movement) of a rousing March. It is an extremely exhilarating piece, excitingly worked up with all the composer's great orchestral skill.
Polyeucte, an Opera based on Corneille's tragedy of the Roman centurion-martyr, was produced in Paris half a century ago, when its composer was sixty. It was one of his favourite works ; shortly before he died he said that even if his other operas, Faust included, were to perish, he wished that Polyeucte might live and succeed. His hope was never gratified, for Polyeucte has not kept in the repertory. The Ballet is amongst the best of its music.