The Station Orchestra, conducted by Warwick Braithwaite
It was a happy idea of Brahms, when the University of Breslau made him a Doctor of Philosophy, to write, as a graceful recognition of the honour, an Overture built on the tunes of songs popular with the University students.
One at least of the four he uses, the tune Gaudcamus igitur, is known far and wide.
We hear first two tunes of Brahms' own invention, and then the students' songs appear.
One of Mussorgsky's friends was an architect, Hartmann, after whose death an exhibition of his drawings and water-colours was held in St. Petersburg. Mussorgsky conceived the idea of trying to reproduce in musical terms the subjects of some of these pictures, and we are to bear two examples of his skill in this kind.
The Suite, originally written for Pianoforte, has been orchestrated by several hands-Ravel's, Sir Henry Wood's, and Leonides Leonardi's. The arrangement of the set most commonly used is this: (1) Promenade. (2) Gnomus - a queer, limping character. (3) The Old Castle. Before a mediaeval castle a troubadour is singing. (4) Children quarrelling at play in the Tuileries Gardens. (5) Bydlo - a clumsy Polish ox-waggon. (6) Ballet of Chickens emerging from their Shells. (7) Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle-two Polish Jews, one rich and imposing and the other a poor man seeking a loan from him. The two themes (said to be Hebrew melodies) characterize them. (8) The Market at Limoges-a bustling scene. (9) Catacombs. In this picture Hartmann drew his own portrait. He is examining the catacombs of Paris by the light of a lantern. In the second section of this piece there is a quotation from the Introduction to the set of pieces, called Promenade (in which we are to imagine the composer poser walking about the picture gallery). Here, in the Catacombs piece, the phrase from the Introduction is deprived of its former vital rhythm, as if to suggest the atmosphere of the caverns and their silent occupants. (10) Baba Yaga's Hut. Baba Yaga is a fearsome witch, who flies through the air in a mortar of glowing metal, which she propels with a pestle. (11) The Great Gate of Kiev. Hartmann's drawing gave his plan for a gate in the ancient Russian style, crowned by a cupola shaped like a helmet. We imagine a procession of soldiers entering the city in triumph.
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