The Station Orchestra
conducted by Warwick Braithwaite
This is the music from a Russian Ballet, 'The Nutcracker and the Mouse King', telling of the wonderful adventures of a little girl, and of a beautiful pair of silver nutcrackers which she received for a Christmas present.
There is a Miniature Overture, and then a set of seven short pieces - Characteristic Dances, Tchaikovsky calls them, and the title is very apt. They are all vivid, and some are amusing. The Suite, when played as a whole, is rounded off by the Valse of the Flowers.
Me. Carr's note on his piece, when it was first performed (at a Promenade Concert last year) was:-
'An impression of the reverent beauty of a great shrine built with passionate faith, and now in ruins, in the heart of a Yorkshire dale'. (Was it Fountains? The composer was for a time conductor of the Harrogate Orchestra.)
Brahms's interest in Hungarian folk-music was first aroused when he was a young man of twenty. Engagements were not very numerous then, and the young composer was glad to go on a concert tour with the violinist, Remenyi, playing his accompaniments. Remenyi was partly of Hungarian extraction, and included some of this country's folk tunes in his programmes.
A hundred years ago Finland's doors were closed to music apart from simple folk songs and dances. Nowadays the names of two Finnish composers, Sibelius and Jarnefelt, often figure in our programmes.
If a vote were taken of the most popular short Orchestral pieces of the day, probably the former's Valse Triste and the latter's Prelude would appear high up in the list.
Just over a century ago a very bad play called Rosamunde was produced in Vienna. It had two performances. But the incidental music was much more fortunate. This was written by Schubert, and was applauded on the spot. Much of it has survived. The Ballet music now to be heard is among the freshest, happiest music ever written.
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