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Concert Program Cover

Third Concert of the 44th Season

 

Sunday, February 27th, 1983
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  Overture and Allegro from La Sultane François Couperin
(arr. Darius Milhaud)
 
       
  Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
(Songs of a Wayfarer)
Gustav Mahler  
 

Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht
Ging heut Morgen über's Feld
Ich hab' ein glühend Messer
Die zwei blauen Augen

 
  Sandra Truitt, mezzo-soprano  
       
  Two Suites for Small Orchestra Igor Stravinsky  
 

Marche (Suite #2)
Napolitana (Suite #1)
Andante (Suite #1)
Balalaika (Suite #1)
Polka (Suite #2)
Galop (Suite #2)

 
       
  Intermission  
       
  Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21 Ludwig van Beethoven  
 

I. Adagio-Allegro con brio
II. Andante cantabile con moto
III. Menuetto
IV. Adagio-Allegro molto e vivace

 
       
  Two Arias from Carmen Georges Bizet  
 

Habanera
Seguidilla

 
  Sandra Truitt, mezzo-soprano  
       

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  Overture and Allegro from La Sultane Suite François Couperin ("Le Grand")
(1668-1733)
(orch. Darius Milhaud)
 
 

François Couperin, known as "The Great" to distinguish him from the other members of his musical family, was an older contemporary of Bach, known as Johann Sebastian, to distinguish him from the other members of HIS musical family. He was a great admirer of Corelli, and strove to combine Italian and French styles in his own music. On one occasion, he wrote a sonata in the Italian style, re-arranged the letters of his name into one that looked more Italian, and passed his work off as that of an unknown Italian composer. After its whole-hearted reception by a pleased patron, he revealed the deception, and resolved to write more in the Italian style under his own name.

La Sultane was written in 1692. The overture has a much more involved development than any of his earlier sonatas, and although it was nominally for two violins and continuo, there was a striking cello part, and the second cello, though frequently doubling the bass, has an independent role as well. This richer than usual texture may be what prompted Darius Milhaud to arrange the Overture and Allegro for modern orchestra.

Milhaud (1892-1974) was a member of "Les Six," a group of six French modernists whose mentor was Erik Satie. The group consisted of Milhaud, Poulenc, Auric, Tailleferre, Honegger, and Durey. They had diverse styles, and thought of themselves as more of a mutual support group than a "school." The most obvious common denominator was their anti-Wagnerianism. Their music ranged from the irreverent parody of their contemporaries (perhaps with infusions of American jazz, or French folk-tunes), to nostalgic references to the past... as in the case of this arrangement of the music of Couperin.


 
       
  Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen Gustav Mahler
(1860-1911)
 
 

Mahler was a Late-Romantic composer of the Viennese School. He was a great admirer of Smetana, and a close friend of Bruckner. He showed his talent at an early age, graduating from the Vienna Conservatoire at the age of eighteen, with a number of prizes, both for piano performance and composition. He is well-known for his symphonies, of which he wrote nine numbered, plus extensive sketches for a tenth which was posthumously completed by others. What was to have been his ninth symphony, he named Das Lied von der Erde, because of a superstition that a "ninth" would be his last, as it was for Beethoven and Bruckner. Ironically, he got over this notion, and numbered his next symphony the Ninth. It was to be his last complete symphony.

Some writers are highly critical of Mahler's symphonies, saying that they are little more than extended orchestral songs, lacking in Classical unity of structure. It is true that they are lyrical, and almost half of them involve choral parts and soloists. He combined the Viennese vocal line with Bohemian folk rhythms in much of his music.

Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen is usually translated as Songs of a Wayfarer. The song cycle was written in 1883, when Mahler was only twenty-three. He was acting as assistant conductor of the Kassel Opera, when he fell in love with Johanna Richter, a singer in the chorus. Her rejection of him was a serious blow, and his emotional response was this song cycle, based on poems Mahler had written to Johanna (with the exception of the first, taken from an earlier collection of German poems called Des Knaben Wunderhorn). The "Wanderer" is Mahler, himself, as he goes forth as an "exile of love." The songs were written before any of the symphonies and there are frequent references to them in the First Symphony, written some six years later.


 
       
  Two Suites for Small Orchestra Igor Stravinsky
(1882-1971)
 
 

The Two Suites for Small Orchestra originally consisted of four short pieces each. From these eight, six pieces have been selected for this performance, and these have been "shuffled" in the interest of variety. You will notice that March, Polka, and Galop have a certain brashness, even rudeness, in common. That is because they all come from the Second Suite, the earlier of the two, when Stravinsky had a different purpose in mind.

In 1921, a Paris theater asked Stravinsky to provide music for a music-hall sketch. The composer selected four early piano duets and orchestrated them for the small orchestra of the theater. Over the run of the show, the orchestra gradually became smaller, parts were dropped, and the music was altered beyond recognition. Stravinsky withdrew the score.

Four years later, he orchestrated the remaining four duets as the First Suite, and the earlier group of four became the Second Suite. The deliciously nose-thumbing trashiness of the Second Suite may be ascribed to the music-hall milieu for which it was intended, but I am inclined to think it also reflects the influence of that undercredited French innovator mentioned previously, Erik Satie. The same Dadaist irreverence can be heard in Satie's Parade, and other works two years before, and will appear eight years later (no doubt transmitted by Stravinsky) in Shostakovich's Age of Gold.

March (Suite #2) This piece begins with a trumpet fanfare. Its raucous discordance suggests that it might have been a prototype for Shostakovich's Age of Gold.

Napolitana (Suite #1) Sprightly and rollicking, this piece makes use of a woodwind ostinato. This steady repetition of a short motif with a melody superimposed is a feature of much of Stravinsky's music at this time.

Andante (Suite #1) This is the opening movement from the First Suite, and is very different in style from the previous selection. It begins with strings over a woodwind ostinato. The adjectives which come to mind are: wistful, reflective, contemplative.

Balalaïka (Suite #1) Some people are reminded less of a Balalaïka than they are of a locomotive by this piece, but most agree that it is a very attractive little thing.

Polka (Suite #2) Of the three selections from the Second Suite, this one reflects most strongly its origin as a dance-hall sketch. Its good-humored vulgarity owes much, I believe, to the influence of Erik Satie.

Galop (Suite #2) Today's performance concludes with music in the same playful mood as the March and the Polka. It reminds one of a children's chant.


 
       
  Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21 Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770-1827)
 
 

Although this is the first large-scale orchestral work composed by Beethoven, and is hardly daring in formal structure, following as it does principles already well established by Haydn, it does show an inventiveness in orchestral timbre and key change that provide hints of the Beethoven to come. Grove implies that these hints are faint indeed, and that we are aware of them only in retrospect. Both he and Berlioz suggest that if this had been Beethoven's last work, though we might still admire it as a capstone to the development of the symphonic form as elaborated by Mozart and Haydn, we would not consider it as presaging any great advance in the form.

Berlioz, in his treatise on the nine symphonies of Beethoven, has very little to say about it. From his viewpoint, it is little more than a rehash of Mozart -- charming and inventive, but a rehash, nonetheless. He describes the final rondo as "a genuine instance of musical childishness." "In a word," he says, "this is not Beethoven."

The first movement has a rather formless introduction of twelve bars, short in comparison to the extended introductions to his Second, Fourth, and Seventh, but in keeping with the form Haydn had established. However, at the time, there was controversy over the wisdom of opening a work purporting to be in C with a discordant F, followed shortly by G. Grove points out that this sort of thing had been done before by both Haydn and J.S. Bach, though he doesn't think Beethoven knew that. The fact that the practice was hardly unprecedented supports Berlioz's view that the symphony breaks little new ground. After the introduction, the Allegro establishes the key by the direct means of reiterating the notes of the tonic chord, a technique which became rather a trademark of Beethoven's. As Dr. Hubert Parry put it, "the principal key shall be so strongly established that even the most stupid persons shall be able to realize it." The second subject is, as to be expected from the sonata-allegro form, in the dominant key of G. The movement ends with an extended coda, perhaps inspired by Mozart; Grove thinks from the "Jupiter" Symphony, but Berlioz thinks from "Don Giovanni." In any case, this type of coda became a favorite device of Beethoven's

There is attractive contrapuntal work in the second movement, reflecting the influence of Beethoven's teacher, Albrechtsberger. The kettle-drums are used here in an interesting way. Berlioz is favorably impressed, and points out that, while this wasn't the first time kettle-drums were used in a symphony, it may be the first time they were used well. What is unusual is that the drums are not tuned in the tonic, but in the dominant.

Perhaps the most notable movement is the third, or Menuetto. In fact, Berlioz declares it "the one truly original thing in this symphony." It must be understood that there is nothing startling about having a minuet for the third movement of a symphony. Almost all Haydn's four-movement symphonies had a minuet for the third. Beethoven startles by doubling the speed, and turning it into a forerunner of the scherzo which became such a feature of his later symphonies.

The final movement begins with a rising theme presented hesitantly, a few notes at a time, almost as if the orchestra were getting up its courage. This opening so displeased Türk, conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, that he routinely omitted these opening notes because he thought the audience would be provoked to laughter. Berlioz, too, thought little of this movement, and some critics of the period disliked the whole work, one describing it as "a caricature of Haydn pushed to absurdity." But the public liked it, and it finally began to draw extravagant praise.


 
       
  Two Arias from Carmen Georges Bizet
(1838-1875)
 
 

Georges Bizet was born in Paris, and died there at the age of thirty-seven. He is often cited as an example of the misunderstood genius driven to an early grave by an indifferent or hostile public, his death being attributed to the "failure" of Carmen. Actually, although the opera received some adverse criticism for the "indelicacy" of its subject, it met with fair success at the box office, being performed some thirty-three times in the two-month period between its premiere and the death of Bizet from a ruptured artery. Carmen came to be the most often performed opera in the world.

Don José, a young Corporal of the Guard, is betrothed to Micaëla, his childhood sweetheart. He is soon seduced and corrupted by the fiery Gypsy girl, Carmen, who works at the cigarette factory in Seville. She soon tires of him and takes up with the matador, Excamillo. Don José, in a fit of jealous rage, stabs her, and she and the curtain fall.

Habanera: "L'amour est une oiseau rebelle..."
(Love is a Willful Bird)

This aria is sung by Carmen on her first appearance. She, and the other girls, have just come from the cigarette factory where they work. Carmen is immediately surrounded by admiring soldiers of the Guard. Only Don José appears immune to her charms. She sings about the inconstancy of Love, and hints that passion is inspired more often by indifference than by devotion. This provides a clue to the ensuing action, as Carmen is attracted to Don José, the only man who scarcely notices her; he is waiting for his beloved Micaëla.

Seguidilla: "Pres des remparts de Seville..."
(By the Walls of Seville)

Carmen has succeeded in arousing José's interest. She has also gotten herself arrested for fighting with a factory-girl, and she is in Don José's custody. Although he ties her to a chair, she vows that he will free her. She sings of meeting a certain young corporal at the cafe of Lillas Pastia, and while it is obvious that she is thinking of Don José, she taunts him with a denial. With a tacit promise to bestow her favors upon him, Carmen persuades Don José to allow her to escape. Thus begins his downfall.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Venona B. Detrick, Concertmaster
Rosemary Manifold *
Kirsten Rupel *+ (asst.)
Mary Berkebile
Carolyn Caldwell
Janet Guy
Linda Hare
Beth Jones +^
J. Renée Rose +
Britta L. Samuelson +
Suzanne Schmucker +^
Vernon Stinebaugh

Viola
Anna Snyder + *
Ethel Anderson
Chris Friddle
Annette Martin

Cello
Jerry Lessig *
Christine Beery
David Pinkham +^
Nancy Rowe +^
Rebecca Waas

Bass
Christopher Bowser *
Calvin Bisha
Matt Greven

Piccolo
Denise Van Petten +

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Debbie Golando

Oboe
Stephanie Jones *
Dawn Zumbrun
Sue Turnquist

English Horn
Stephanie Jones
Clarinet
Margaret Trentacosti *
Loa Traxler +

Bass Clarinet
Laura Rowlett +

Bassoon
Takashi Yamano *
Douglas Hodge

Horn
Eric Joseph *+
Eric Jones +
John Morse
Max Murphy

Trumpet
Andrew Norman *
Steve Hammer
Mark Joseph +

Trombone
Hugh Callison *
Brian Hartman
Randy Branaman +

Tuba
Marvin Crider +

Timpani
Christopher Caldwell +

Percussion
Bill Leonhard *+
Terry McKee

Harp
Nancy Morse

Piano
Ingrid Rupel +

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
       
 
Sandra TruittSandra Truitt's musical training includes the Bachelor of Music Education degree from Furman University, the Master of Music degree in voice performance from Northwestern University, and she is currently a Doctoral candidate in voice performance at Northwestern. While at Northwestern she sang a lead role in Benjamin Britten's Rape of Lucretia and was a soloist for Copland's In the Beginning and Bach's B Minor Mass.

As the 1981 Miss Illinois, she was the first runner-up to Miss America and was the winner of the preliminary talent competition. She has modelled for Albert Capraro and Lonnie Stewart, and appeared on the Chicago Today Show.

Ms. Truitt has appeared as soloist with the Galesburg-Knox Symphony and the Danville Symphony. She is a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and has made two New York tours with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, performing under the direction of Sir George Solti, James Levine, and Claudio Abbado.

In addition to her professional performing experience, she has also served as Music and Youth Director of the First Methodist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, and the First Baptist Church in Leesville, South Carolina.