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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 Petrograd Conservatoire, he carried on its duties for some time without relinquishing his rank on the active list of the Navy. That there was 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 this piece he has given us a sparkling 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 same strenuous energy which characterized its first appearance.
The fourth movement is called 'Sceno 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.
(to 12.45)

Contributors

Musicians:
National Orchestra of Wales

Relayed from the Assembly Boom, City Hall
National Orchestra of Wales
(Cerddorfa Genedlaethol Cymru)
Leader, Albert Voorsanger
Conducted by Warwick Braithwaite

The German suffix 'mann' is often found in the family names of French Alsace, a part of the world where national sentiment and patriotism are very sturdy growths. Leon Boellmann, born in Alsace in 1862, was a real Frenchman, and none of his music could be mistaken for anything but genuine French. In one respect, however, his career as a composer was not the one most usually followed by his countrymen - he wrote no music for the stage, the traditional path to success and popularity in the French world of music. It may be that that accounts, in part at least, for his failure to win a place in the front rank among the men of his day; his music has many of the qualities which entitle him to it. Natural, fresh, graceful and poetic, with harmonies which are often bold, but always clear, it has, too, a purity of style and something of dignity in design, which betray his close study of the classical masters.
Coming to Paris at an early age to enter the Ecole de Musique Religieuse, he won many honours there; when only nineteen, he became sub-organist, and soon afterwards organist, of the church of St. Vincent de Paul. He achieved a great reputation as a master of his instrument, composing a considerable volume of music for it and for the church, as well as orchestral and chamber music, pieces and songs.
He died in 1897, a fortnight after his thirty-fifth birthday.
His "Variations for Violoncello and Orchestra" have always been popular, though they are hardly on the same level as much of his other work; the Sonata for Violoncello and Pianoforte, for instance, displaying, as it does, some affinity with Cesar Franck, is more distinguished music.
At the outset of the "Variations Symphoniques" the solo Violoncello begins at once with a bold and vigorous theme, displaying the fine qualities of both the upper and lower strings of his instrument and, with a robust accompaniment by the orchestra, dominates the Introduction in a Moderato maestoso movement. There is a change to Andantino and the solo instrument announces the theme of the variations. It is a simple flowing melody with something of folk song character in it, and the accompaniment is also of a simple order.
The Variations follow without a break, the first one in a running triplet figure, the second with vivacious semi-quavers in the accompaniment as its feature, and the third with a still more elaborate variant in quicker time, for the soloist. The variations which succeed to it have more of strength and dignity, without losing any of the brightness which has gone before, and the work comes to an end with a very broad sweeping repetition of the theme.

Contributors

Musicians:
National Orchestra of Wales
Orchestra leader:
Albert Voorsanger
Orchestra conducted by:
Warwick Braithwaite

5WA Cardiff

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About this data

This data is drawn from the Radio Times magazine between 1923 and 2009. It shows what was scheduled to be broadcast, meaning it was subject to change and may not be accurate. More