of Duets for Two Pianofortes by EDITH GUNTHORPE and CECIL BAUMER
ARTHUR DE GREEF, best known to us in this country as a brilliant solo pianist, is also a composer of some distinction. Born at Louvain, he studied first at the Brussels Conservatoire, and afterwards was a pupil of Liszt at Weimar. Already at the ago of twenty-three he was Pianoforte Professor at the Brussels Conservatoire, but his duties there have not prevented his undertaking wide concert tours, in the course of which he has not only achieved many notable successes, but has also won for himself the warm-hearted affection and esteem of musicians everywhere. Grieg, for example, was one of his staunch friends, and for many years do Greef was regarded as above all others the authoritative player of the Grieg Concerto.
Of his more important works, several have been given in this country, notably Four Old Flemish Songs for orchestra, which ho conducted himself at the Queen's Hall in 1896, and a Pianoforte Concerto in C which ho played there under Sir Henry Wood in 1021. ONE of the present-day members of the Russian
School of composers who can look back with prido to the inspiring teaching of Rimsky-Korsakov, at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire, Arensky was for a time a Professor at Moscow. In 1892 his first opera made a successful appearance there ; like so many of the popular Russian operas, it is on a national subjec-t-A Dream of the Volga. Other operas, ballets, and cantatas have followed it, and ho is known also as a distinguished composer for the Church. He has written also symphonic and other orchestral music, of which tho Variations on a Tchaikovsky Theme are best known in this country, and a good deal of chamber music, notably the two pianoforte trios, of which the first especially is frequently played. More than his contemporaries, ho may be said to have carried on Tchaikovsky's tradition, though without so rich a share of poetic ideas, and without Tchaikovsky's gift of dramatic force Hismastery of orchestral resources, too, is less facile, and less versatile than Tchaikovsky's, but he has at command a fund of pleasing melody, and many of his pieces are no doubt destined to enjoy a lasting popularity.
8.5 c LAKME '
Opera in Three Acts by DELIBES
THE WIRELESS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (Leader, S. KNEALE KELLEY)
THE WIRELESS CHORUS (Chorus-Master, STANFORD ROBINSON)
Conducted by PERCY PITT
Relayed from The Parlophone Studios
(By courtesy of The Parlophone Company)
Cast : Lakme ................ NOEL EADIE
Mallika ............ GLADYS PALMER
Gerald ............. TUDOR DAVIES
Nilakantha............ JOHN THORNE
Frederic ........ HERBERT SIMMONDS
Hadji Tom PURVIS
English Text by Claude Aveling
An Introduction to the Opera by Moses Baritz.
Delibes' affection for a charming American prima donna inspired the composition of the opera Lakme.
This lady, Marie van Zandt, originated the title part, and did much to give it the astounding success achieved at the production of the opera in Paris, April 14, 1883. The opera was composed in a dingy attic with one chair, a small piano, and two tables loaded with books. The music was written on a board sustained by trestles. The inconvenience did not militate against the joyous output; it rather increased it.
The composer had an 'insatiable desire to play practical jokes. One of these pranks was directed against the famous Offenbach, who was rehearsing a new piece. Surreptitiously, Delibes obtained a full score of the new work, and added a lengthy solo for a bass drum!
He had a bright and sunny disposition despite his scholarly attainments; for it must be noted that he was appointed Professor of Composition at the Paris Conservatoire two years before the production of the opera. His profound knowledge of classical music did not turn him from a resolve to create lighter forms of composition.
Who has not enjoyed the ballet music of Coppelia and Sylvia? How many have frowned when the delightful 'Naila' intermezzo from La Source has been desecrated by weird and undesirable ' jazz' band (its) ? His ballet music not only affords opportunities for the premiere danseuse, but many concerts are enlivened by the inclusion of this light music.
The story of Lakme required a fund of novel orchestration to reproduce the exotic Eastern atmosphere. In this Delibes succeeded admirably. He reached the zenith of his powers here, his first operatic work of serious dimensions. There is a scintillating brightness which leaves delightful memories for the mind to draw upon. Lakme possesses an elegance and refinement; a polish and sublimity, establishing an immediate appeal for the listener. The effective ' Eastern ' rhythmical colouring, the gorgeous harmonies, coupled with the resplendent use of the orchestra, will delight a 'wireless' audience.
Act I opens at daybreak in the garden of a Brahmin temple, where a fanatical priest, Nilakanta, officiates. Worshippers enter chanting a prayer to Brahma. The priest blesses the congregation, then delivers an attack upon the British race. The tirade ceases on hearing his daughter Lakme reciting her morning prayers. This is introduced by a series of chords from the harp, with an accompaniment of vestal virgins (page 8 of the libretto*). The brilliant cadenza foreshadows the Bell song in Act II. A duet between Lakme and her female attendant, Mallika, follows. The scene is idyllic, the music beautiful, though the orchestral accompaniment unusually sparse. The harmonic adjustment of the vocal parts, however, is delightful. The fading of the voices in the distance is an effect peculiarly suited to broadcasting. Gerald and Frederick, officers of a regiment quartered in an adjoining city, penetrate the sacred precincts of the temple, where the latter relates a fascinating story concerning Lakme. Gerald, remains to sketch some jewellery Lakme has mislaid. In a fine solo, he gives flight to his imagination, attempting to visualize the thoughtless owner of the trinkets. The 'cellos play a charming introduction, after which there is a declamatory prelude to the song adequately expressive of the situation. There is an interesting change, both in tempo and key at the words (page 13). 'Here in my hands lies a pendant before me.'
Hearing the ladies return, Gerald conceals himself. Lakme feels a mysterious impulse to remain, and in pretty song she asks, 'Why?' (page 14.)
Startled at discovering Gerald in the shrubbery, she utters a cry of dismay, which brings the attendants to her side. Dismissing them, she turns to Gerald and denounces him for the sacrilegious act of entering the holy territory. He completely transforms her anger into love. The duet (pp. 15-rh) is bright, with nothing to mar the lyrical charm of the vocal parts. The simplicity of the accompaniment is delightful, the melody of both singers being doubled by sections of the orchestra. Lakme's infuriated father returns, and she aids Gerald to escape undetected. The act ends with the bitter imprecations of the priest against the unknown intruder.
There is an entr'acte before Act II, embodying some of the music subsequently performed. The scene is a bazaar in an Indian city, with throngs of people viewing the merchandise on the stands and stalls. This permits of an excellent chorus, followed by dancing girls performing a ballet.
The dances are three in number, with a short coda. The third dance, the 'Persian,' is exceptionally fascinating, because of the chorus interjecting the word 'Ah' in utter astonishment at the wild gyrations of the dancers. The withdrawal of the dancers brings Nilakanta and Lakme on the scene, disguised as mendicants, in order that the father might discover the identity of the stranger who violated the sanctity of the temple gardens.
Nilakanta's solicitude for his daughter is expressed in a song of much tenderness, though there is an emphatic assertion of vengeance directed against the unknown intruder. The most emotional part of the song begins with the words (page 21) :Ã¢â¬â 'Lakme, sorrow has come upon you.'
There is a 'cello opening, with an instrumental interlude similarly emotional. Nilakanta orders Lakme to sing, whilst lie eagerly scans the faces of the British onlookers. The' Bell' song follows (page 22), no analysis being required. Gerald is warned to be discreet, but foolishly recognizes Lakme an action instantly noticed by her father. Just as a crisis appears imminent, a battalion of English soldiers, headed by a fife and drum band, march through the city, drawing the crowd in their direction. Nilakanta gives instructions for his followers to surround Gerald. Hadji, Lakme's male attendant, secretly sympathizing with the lovers, arranges a tryst for them. In the duet that ensues, Lakme entrances Gerald by inviting him to her secluded bamboo hut in the forest. Lakme, greatly distressed that her father has sworn to kill Gerald, appeals to Dourga, the God, to preserve her lover. A rousing chorus is heard before Gerald is craftily encircled. Isolated in this way, the priest stabs him, leaving him apparently dead.
THE last act is preceded by an entr'acte, reproducing themes from Act II, particularly from Lakme's part in the duet, where the forest hut is mentioned. This Wagnerian method naturally prepares the listener for the scene that follows. A hut is disclosed partially concealed by tropical foliage and flowers. Gerald, badly wounded, is lovingly tended by Lakme and Hadji. The music retains its Eastern colour, depicting the feverish wanderings of Gerald's mind, as it recapitulates scenes from Act II prior to the murderous attack upon him. Regaining mental control, he sings the song (page 30) :Ã¢â¬â 'In this secluded forest.'
In the distance a chorus is heard inviting all lovers to partake of water from a sacred spring. At this point a stirring scene is evolved by the combination of the chorus and duet for the two lovers. Lakme departs to obtain sacred water. During her absence, Frederick, having discovered Gerald's refuge, enters to inform him that their regiment is ordered away for immediate service. Lakme returns with the water, thinking her lover will drink it, and so knit their hearts for ever. Gerald refuses, as he must return to duty. In despair Lakme eats a poisonous flower, telling her lover she is about to die. The farewell duet between the lovers is passionate and moving. The priest and his followers return, threatening Gerald with death. Lakme takes responsibility for what has transpired-offering herself as a sacrifice, she expires as the curtain falls.
(* The page numbers given in Mr. Baritz's article refer to the libretto of Lakme published by the B.B.C., details of how to obtain which will be found on page 185)