The Birmingham Studio Augmented
(Leader, Frank Cantell)
Conducted by Joseph Lewis
WEBER was uncommonly successful in catering for early nineteenth century
German tastes in Opera, which lay in the direction of folk-legends, tales of romantic and chivalrous deeds, and homely sentiment.
The Opera, The Marksman, is about mysterious deeds of black magic, the romantic love of a huntsman, and the machinations of his rival — a capital plot for those who like opera hot and strong, and don't trouble too much about its improbabilities. The Marksman went down at the first performance, so Weber wrote, with ' Incredible enthusiasm.... I was called before the curtain ... verses and wreaths came flying up. Soli Deo gloria.' . His Overture is built on melodies sung in the opera.
DR. LYON, a musician largely self-taught, and long prominent in the musical life of the North 'of England, has composed a great many works — four operas, several ' Melomimes,' Suites for Orchestra, chamber music, etc. His Welsh Tone Poem, Gwalia, is his Op. 37.
IT is uncommonly pleasant to hear one of Schubert's symphonies that is very rarely played. This one dates from 1818, when Schubert was twenty-one. It was first performed as an act of commemoration, at a concert given a month after his death. There is a richness and freedom in the work that shows the composer's powers are ripening and his technical grasp is more assured than in the other five works he had written in this form. The Unfinished, of course, and the great C Major, were yet to come.
There are four Movements, the first being preceded by a slow Introduction. Note the very happy start given to both the main tunes of this Movement by their being thrown off by the Woodwind.
The Second Movement is one of Schubert's lovely, heart-easing Andantes.
The Third Movement is not the old Minuet, but a Scherzo, brilliant and piquant in its tip-toe delight.
The Last Movement sums up the rhythmical joys of the work, keeping up an exhilarating flow of light and power without flagging.
FEW French composers of last century attained speedier or more consistent success than
Massenet. He was a brilliant student, and of his score or more of operas the greater part enjoyed immense popularity. At the age of thirty-four he received the decoration of the Legion of Honour, and two years later he became a member of the Academy of Fine Arts — the youngest member ever elected. Not many of his operas have survived in England, but Manon was for long a great favourite at Covent Garden.