The Augmented Station Orchestra, conducted by Warwick Braithwaite
Dvorak's 'Cello Concerto is one of his best works, and one of the best existing works for the instrument. It is written in three separate Movements,and scored for a fairly large Orchestra.
First Movement (Quick).
The First Main Tune is given, without preliminary, by Clarinets in their low, reedy register, joined at the third bar by Bassoons an octave lower.
This Tune is really a 'motto' Theme, dominating this Movement and recurring in the last one. In the present Movement it is gradually taken up and brought to a climax in the Full Orchestra.
Very soon after this has died down a Horn plays a splendid song-like Second Main Tune.
After a sudden climax, the Solo 'Cello enters with the First Main Tune. The rest of the Movement need not be described.
Second Movement (Not too slow).-
The chief substance of this Movement consists in expressive, lyrical and decorative work for the soloist. The chief Tuno opens in the Clarinet. The Solo 'Cello enters after the first phrase.
Third Movement (Moderately quick.)
Dvorak's instinct for musical colour led him to open the Main Tune, at the start of the Finale, with Horns; indeed, the very nature of the Tune is obviously that of a Horn-call.
The Horns are answered by Oboe and Clarinet, and this is followed by a steady growth in the volume of sound.
A moderate climax develops, after which, the Solo 'Cello enters, with the Main Tune of the Movement.
There are many other tunes introduced in this Movement, but that just described is the one that should stick in one's mind, together with the 'motto' theme from the First Movement, softly referred to in the Finale.
This is a musical illustration of a kind of 'cautionary tale' by the German poet Burger.
(Scott, in his Wild Huntsman, gives an English version of the legend. Compare also the final section of Schonberg's Songs of Gurra). Franck has told the story in a preface to his score:-
'The Sabbath morn: from afar comes the sound of a joyous peal of Bells and the chants of a devout congregation.... Sacrilege! The savage Count of the Rhine has sounded his horn. "Tally ho, tally ho!" the hunt sweeps over on field and plain and heath. "Stay, Count, I pray, and listen to the pious chant". "No... Tally ho, tally ho". "Tarry, Count, I implore thee, beware!" "No!" The chase passes on like a whirlwind.
'Suddenly the Count is alone. His horse refuses to advance another step. He blows his horn, but not a sound is heard. A grim voice curses him: "Blasphemer, thou shalt be hunted for ever by the hordes of Hell".
'Then flames spring up around. The Count, mad with fear, takes to flight; and now for all time he is riding faster and ever faster, pursued by a throng of demons, in daytime over cliffs and abysses, and through mid-air at night'.
Hungarian Folk Song ..... Trowell
Musical Moment................... Schubert
Spanish Rhapsody Ravel
In this Rhapsody in four sections, Ravel, who has long been in the forefront of living French composers, gives us a glimpse of Spanish life and scenes. He was born in the Lower Pyrenees, and must have absorbed, in his early days, something of the atmosphere of the Spanish countryside.
I. Prelude, To Night.-A little four-note rhythmic figure is begun by muted Violins and Violas. It persists all through the Movement-typifying, one may imagine, the dreamy stillness of night. The only clear Theme is that hoard on Clarinets in octaves, soon after the opening (beginning with repeated descending notes on adjacent degrees of the scale).
String tremolos and harmonics, and glides from the Harp, help to enrich the picture.
II. Malagueim.-This is a graceful dance from Southern Malaga. Double Basses start a rhythmical phrase of three bars, which gives the key to the general character of the Dance. A Muted Trumpet has the chief tune (beginning with six repetitions of one note, in the three-time rhythm of taa tafatefe taa.)
Castanets, extra drums, cymbals and tambourines give point to the dance, which has many sudden changes of spirit.
One of these striking contrasts is provided by the little solo for Cor Anglais, which sounds quite sad. The repeated four-note figure of the Prelude is heard again immediately after this solo bit.
III. Habanera.-This is an earlier piece written when Ravel was twenty, and later on brought into the Rhapsody. The Dance has a rather lazy, gliding, swaying movement.
The First Main Tune is played by Oboe and Cor Anglais. It is marked Very slow, and with weary rhythm. Its alternation of two-note and three-note beats (both being of equal length) will be noticed.
Solo Violins and Violas have a Second Tune, that. skips gracefully up and down.
IV. The Fair.-This is made of a multitude of little themes, as varied and diversely coloured as are the costumes of the crowd at a fair.
One of the most important of the themes is a brilliant fanfareliko one, using the taa tajatefe taa rhythm that was prominent in the Malaguena.
The working up of all the fragments is exciting. We get a remarkably vivid impression of the scene.
Ravel has succeeded in doing what every real artist must be able to do-'see the picture' and make us see it, too.
The Augmented Station