THE B.B.C. ORCHESTRA
Conducted by JOSEPH LEWIS
CONSTANCE WILLIS (Contralto)
ALTHOUGH the late Sir Arthur Sullivan was a more many-sided musician than we are apt to remember now, it is his light-hearted music which most of us know and love best.
This Overture is one of the best known of his purely orchestral pieces, and almost tliroughout it is based, as its name suggests, on dance rhythms Played first at the Birmingham Festival of 1870, it has ever since figured constantly in programmes. It begins joyously with a series of bold chords, and then there is a fine, broad melody given first to the woodwinds and afterwards shared in by the strings. The chief tune following after that is a very merry and light-footed dance, and other tunes are heard before we come to a long graceful waltz. The Overture is rounded off by a boisterous Galop measure.
IT used to be a matter of common belief that Handel won his restoration to the favour of our King George I by this ' Water Music.' There is no doubt, of course, of the circumstances under which he was here in England, with leave of absence from his post at Hanover, nor that when the Elector of Hanover, his master, became our King George, Handel really was in disgrace for having sadly overstayed his leave. But recent researches have thrown doubt on the truth of the' Water Music ' incident-how Handel composed it specially and had it played in a boat which followed the royal barge up the river. Thus do the ruthless searchers after prosaic fact destroy our most kindly illusions. Nothing, however, can affect the fresh wholesomeness of the music itself, although parts of it are now only rarely heard. It consisted originally of no fewer than twenty-one movements, many of them in the formal dance measures of that day : the form in which wo usually hear it now is that arranged by Sir Hamilton Harty , who has selected only six of the twenty-one movements to present to us in modern guise.
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