Relayed from the National Museum of Wales
National Orchestra of Wales
(Cerddorfa Genedlaethol Cymru)
Like more than one of his gifted compatriots, Rimsky-Korsakov began his career as a musician from the amateur's point of view. Born in that class of Russian society whose sons have a choice of only two careers, he was a sailor until his thirtieth year. Even after his fine musicianship had earned him the appointment of Professor of Composition in the St. Petersburg Conservatoire, he carried on its duties for some time without relinquishing his rank on the active list of the Navy. Thnt there is nothing amateurish in his musical equipment is by now very clearly recognized. He is known as one of the most brilliant members of the modern Russian school whose work combines something of Eastern gorgeousness with the sombre traits of the Slav character.
In the Capriccio Espagnol he has given us a brilliant study in the vivacious Spanish manner. Most of the movements are in Spanish dance rhythms, with characteristic names. The first is an Alborada with a boisterous theme which the violins begin in unison. It is followed by a theme, announced by the horns, on which a short series of variations is built, and thereafter the first Alborada reappears in an altered guise, with different orchestration, but with all the strenuous energy which characterized its first appearance.
The fourth movement is called 'Seeno e canto gitano'; it begins with a series of elaborate Cadenzas. Horns and trumpets together play the first one, to be followed in turn by solo violin, flute, clarinet and harp, after which the movement pursues its somewhat wayward and capricious course, the themes being mainly those of which we have heard hints in the Cadenzas.
The fifth and last movement is a Fandango asturiano, of which the sturdily rhythmic tune is first presented by woodwinds and violins in unison; a short Coda, working up to a boisterous, hurrying close, is founded on the tune which we heard first in the opening Alborada.
Professor Granville Bantocks career has taken him all over the world, and many different lands have given him inspiration for his music. This Suite is a set of five light. hearted tunes in the Russian manner, most of them dances.
The first, At the Fair (Nijni Novgorod), begins with a rhythmic figure out of which the principal tune is soon evolved, a merry tune in which the same rhythm is repeated bar by bar. There are other tunes, all in the same energetic strain, but it is the first which has the chief say in the movement.
The second is a Mazurka, and here again the rhythm of the opening is heard almost all the way through. The principal tune appears after four bars, on the first violins. There is another merry running figure combined with the rhythm of the opening, of which a middle section is made.
The third movement is a Polka with a sturdy tune played first by clarinets, bassoons, horns and cornets. There is another melody, a syncopated one, which clarinet and violin have first.
A Waltz comes next, and here again the introduction foreshadows the chief tune. 'Cellos and bassoons play it first. There is a middle section in more vigorous time and then the first tune returns, now played by all the strings.
The last movement is a very lively Cossack Dance. In a quick three in the bar, it is interrupted ever and anon by a bar of two beats, as though the players stamped their feet firmly on the ground. Here again there is a middle section with a more gracious melody, but soon the energetic opening returns.