Relayed from the National Museum of Wales
National Orchestra of Wales
(Cerddorfa Genedlaethol Cymru)
Cherubini, born in Florence in 1760, lived to the great age of 82. In the important development which music underwent in those long years, he had himself a large share; the church and theatre music of France in particular, to which he devoted most of his mature work, owe him more than it would be easy to assess. For the most part grave and serious, his music displays a breadth and vigour not unlike the great Beethoven's; it is all sincere and dignified, even in its more light-hearted moods.
The opera, Ali Baba, though not completed till 1833, when the composer was 73, is actually a revised version of an early work - Koukourgi - written forty years earlier; it shows many traces of the frankly melodious Italian opera of the late eighteenth century.
The overture begins in quick time with a simple, vigorous time, which is twice interrupted by a little running figure on the violins. After a silent pause, a flowing melody is heard, which gives place soon to a sprightly tune in merry mood; on these the first part of the overture is built up, alternating between energy and daintiness with a hint of mischief in it. The end is in very quick time, beginning softly with a tune in short, crisp notes, and rising to a strong, robust climax.