Relayed from the National Museum of Wales
National Orchestra of Wales
This short oratorio deals with the miraculous return of sight to the man who had been blind from birth. The Meditation, for orchestra, stands as a Prelude to it, and is sufficiently well described by its name.
On his first visit to this country, as a young man of twenty, Mendelssohn was particularly impressed by the rugged beauty of the Western Isles of Scotland. On his first sight of Fingal's Cave, to which he was rowed out in a boat, he jotted down the tune which afterwards became the main theme of this Overture. It is heard at the outset on the basses, and runs through a large part of the music.
National Orchestra of
Relayed from the Concert of the Bristol University Musical Society
The Catterall Quartet: Arthur Catterall; Bernard Shore; Laurence Turner; Johan C. Hock
It is an interesting measure of the rapid march of music in our time, that Ravel, regarded less than a generation ago as the arch-apostle in France of modern impressionism, is now accepted as the foremost representative there of the older order, upholding the tradition which can be logically traced from the classics through Saint-Saens and Faure.
This Quartet, dedicated 'to his dear Master, Faure', is an early work; revised by Ravel, it appeared in its present form in 1910. The chief difficulty which it presents to the ordinary listener is the sense it is apt to give him of being fragmentary; only after repeated hearings does its conciseness become clear. The first movement, however, is fairly easy to follow, and its two main tunes, the first appearing at the beginning on the first violin, and the second, also on the first violin a little later, are quite straightforward melodies which are easily recognized throughout the movement.
The second begins with a very quick figure which gives place soon to a little fragment of song-like tune on the first violin, and though the time and the mood change frequently, these two, as well as another melody broadly played by the first violin, will be heard to have the chief say in it. The third movement is for the most part in a very slow time, although it, too, changes here and there to a livelier mood. The melody which listeners will find it easiest to keep in mind is one which the viola plays at the beginning of the movement.
The last movement begins stormily, and soon there is a calmer section with a broad melody in which all the instruments share. On alternations of these two the short movement is made up.
It is not easy to describe in words, as a listener recently asked the B.B.C. to do, what is meant by 'Romantic' music. To any who listen attentively, Schumann's music itself answers the question much better than words could do, and nowhere more convincingly than in this string quartet. The big opening theme is in itself a romance, which is further expounded in the closely allied second theme. The first movement is simply and concisely made up in the traditional way, of these two. The slow movement is a set of variations, four in number, on the song-like tune with which the movement opens. Thereafter the theme is repeated, and a short coda in the manner of the second variation forms the close. The third movement is a Scherzo and Trio in the usual form, both hurrying along briskly, and in the last movement, like the first, there are two tunes, a swift-footed one at the beginning and one of a more tender character a little later.