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Concert Program Cover

First Concert of the 56th Season

 

Sunday, November 6th, 1994
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  Overture to Die Schöne Helena Jacques Offenbach  
       
  Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  
 

I. Allegro maestoso
II. Andante
III. Allegro vivace assai

   
  Jodie DeSalvo, piano  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Scènes de Ballet, Op. 52 Alexander Glazounov  
 

Preambule
Mazurka
Pas d'Action
Danse Orientale
Polonaise

   
       
  The Stars and Stripes Forever John Philip Sousa  
       

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  Overture to Die Schöne Helena Jacques Offenbach
(1819-1880)
 
 

It is interesting that the best-known representative of the lighthearted, even frivolous side of the French musical character is, in fact, German-born. Jakob Eberst (or Winer, according to musicologist Scholes) was born in the village of Offenbach, Germany. His father was cantor at the synagogue in Cologne. At an early age (one source says twenty-four, another says thirteen), Jakob Eberst/Wiener took up residence in Paris where, under the name of Jacques Offenbach, he took the post of cellist in the orchestra of the Paris Opéra-Comique. He later became conductor at the Théâtre Français.

He was a prolific composer of light music, producing some ninety operettas in the next twenty-five years. Parisian audiences were delighted by the frivolous attitude he took to classical subjects. He wrote with such infectious wit that he could provoke audiences to laugh, even when their own society was the butt of the joke.

In Die Schöne Helena (the subject being Helen of Troy), Offenback pokes fun at the Heroic Greek Ideal, and at the whole idea of Neo-Classicism which had dominated Western art prior to his time. He is often compared with Gilbert and Sullivan, who battered away at the British class-system in their music. But his irreverence in attacking the Establishment was not quite as daring as theirs, since Neo-Classicism was already on the way out by the time Offenbach attacked it.

His music is still popular even among those who pay little attention to operatic music. Most would be able to whistle along with the "Can-Can" from La Vie Parisienne, or the "Barcarole" from Tales of Hoffmann, even if they couldn't name the source. To my knowledge, his operetta La Péricole has the signal distinction of being the only such work to be repeated by request on the College radio station, WBKE!


 
       
  Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-1791)
 
 

Mozart wrote this piano concerto in March of 1785, about the same time he was working on Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). Mozart frequently wrote pieces in "pairs" of contrasting character. This rather sunny concerto was written for the same orchestral forces as K. 466, in D Minor, and followed it in less than a month. The work is in three movements. The first is marked Allegro maestoso, although only parts of it sound particularly "majestic." There is a lengthy orchestral introduction before the entry of the soloist, a standard practice of the time. Concertos customarily have cadenze, which were, in Mozart's day, moments set aside for the soloist to extemporize... a sort of show-off section. All Mozart's concerti were written so that he, himself, could perform them, and his listeners expected him to extemporize. He often provided no written cadenze, making them up as needed. In later times, composers prudently began to composer their own cadenze, perhaps to spare the performer embarassment, but more likely to ensure that the cadenza bore some stylistic relationship to the work. The cadenze heard today are by the twentieth-century pianist Robert Casadesus, with some elaborations in the first and last movement by August Winding.

The second movement, andante, is the one most familiar to modern audiences, owing to its use in the sound-track of the film "Elvira Madigan." It was chosen for that purpose no doubt because of its extremely romantic character.

The third movement, allegro vivace assai, is a rondo, with several recurring themes alternating with the first. The opening theme occupies a narrow span and serves as the basis of invention for the rest of this very sprightly movement.


 
       
  Selections from Scènes de Ballet, Op. 52 Alexander Glazounov
(1865-1936)
 
 

Considering how successful Glazounov was in his own time, it is surprising how little his music is played today. He was a prolific orchestral composer, but only two of his eight symphonies are regularly heard in this country.

He was, for many years, Director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and in that capacity influenced many young composers, notably Shostakovich, who writes very warmly of Glazounov, not only for his erudition, but also for his compassion. To quote Shostakovich, "Glazounov felt that no real harm would come to great and holy Art if some singer wihtout a voice, the mother of children without a husband, was given a job in the chorus of an operetta company."

he had very conservative musical tastes, and even walked out of a performance by his protegé Prokofiev to protest the "modernist" character of the music. However, in keeping with his reputation for benevolence, he continued to support Prokofiev and to find opportunities for his music to be performed.

Glazounov was an authentic musical genius; his first symphony was performed in St. Petersburg when he was only sixteen, and shortly after, in Germany, where it was praised by Liszt. Some critics believe that after his fourth symphony, he began to repeat himself.

Despite the name Scènes de Ballet, the work we hear today was not meant for dancing. It is an orchestral suite, presented as a gift to the Russian Opera Orchestra of St. Petersburg. Of the eight movements, we are to hear five:

Préambule - The work oepns with a fanfare and a martial theme. Shortly, the music quietens and features the strings and woodwinds in a rhythm suggesting a trot.

Mazurka - With two chopping chords we begin the introduction to the Mazurka, a Polish dance made very familiar through the efforts of Chopin. The mazurka itself bursts exuberantlyon us with full orchestra. In the contrasting section, we hear low strings and bassoons intended to suggest the bagpipe used by village musicians to accompany this peasant dance.

Pas d'action - In this quiet dance we are reminded of Glazounov's admiration for Tschaikowsky. Although the themes are different, the mood evoked is that of the Pas d'action from Swan Lake.

Danse orientale - The Soulcs of Marrakech are brought to mind through the use of the clarinet and oboe, imitating the shawm of the snake-charmer. Or perhaps we are to imagine something more voluptuous!

Polonaise - A hallmark of Romanticism is the evocation of the exotic. Hardly anything in this music is intended to sound Russian. Throughout the suite, Glazounov alludes to foreign climes from Morocco to Poland, and in that way, the music is very Russian. The work ends with a rousing polonaise, the national dance of Poland.


 
       
  The Stars and Stripes Forever John Philip Sousa
(1854-1932)
 
 

John Philip Sousa hardly needs an introduction. The Norman Rockwell of American music, he is known to, or at least his music is recognized by, all Americans. He was born, appropriately, in Washington, D.C., the son of a Spanish trombonist in the Marine Band. Legend has it that his name originally was Antonio So, and that he added the usa to the name as a tribute to his adopted country. Sousa denies this, but if this story is not true, it ought to be, or as musicologist Wilfrid Mellers says, "...it is truer than fact." Mellers, a British expert in American music, says that Sousa is to the march as Strauss is to the waltz.

Mellers goes on to contrast Sousa with that other American icon, Stephen Foster. While the latter represents pessimistic nostalgia, the former evinces optimistic buoyancy. Foster is all heart; Sousa is all body. Sousa, himself, declared that his music was not for the  head... it was for the feet! It "...should make a man with a wooden leg step out."


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Linda U. Kanzawa, Concertmaster
Rosemary Manifold *
Matt Baker +^
Martha Barker
Stephanie Beery +^
Julie Brown +
Joyce Dubach
Matthew N. Hendryx
Rod Morrison
David Neal
Sandra Neel
Maria Peltola
Moo Il Rhee
Melanie Rondeau

Viola
Naida MacDermid *
Joyce Gouwens
Sarah Smith

Cello
Jim Eaton *
Anne Gratz
Polly Hoover +^
Elizabeth Sluder
C.D. Stevens +^
Lisa White

Bass
Randy Gratz *
Darrel Fiene
George W. Scheerer

Piccolo
Mary Beth Gnagey

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Sue Hibma

Oboe
Rita Kimberley *
George Donner
English Horn
George Donner

Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Jane Grandstaff
Robyn Jones

Bassoon
Donna Russell *
Courtney Gorham

Horn
Nancy A. Bremer * (co-)
Bryan Gibson * (co-)
Jennifer J. Double +^
Michael Galbraith

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Scott D. Steenburg +^
Mike Clark

Trombone
D. Larry Dockter *
Joe Neff
Bill Anders

Tuba
William DeWitt

Timpani
Mark Sternberg +

Percussion
David Mendenhall
Terry Vaughn

Piano
Debora DeWitt

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
       
 
Jodie DeSalvoPianist Jodie Gelbogis DeSalvo, the 1990 winner of the Simone Belsky Music Award, began her piano studies at the age of eight. She went on to win her first statewide competition just five years later and by the age of 16, had won two of the top prizes in the Hartford Symphony Competition. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from the Hartt School of Music in 1981 and her Masters from the Manhattan School of Music, where she was a scholarship student of Artur Balsam and Nina Svetlanova, and participated in master classes with John Browning, Gary Graffman and Leon Fleisher.

Ms. Gelbogis DeSalvo has been a top prize winner in several competitions including the Young Keyboard Artists Association, the American Music Scholarship Association, the National Federation of Music Clubs Competition and most recently the Performers of Connecticut. In February, 1988, she made her New York debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall to critical acclaim as winner of the Artists International Competition and will return to New York this season for an invitational recital at Merkin Concert Hall.

A native of Waterbury, Connecticut, she has appeared in recital and as featured artist both here and abroad. She has toured Switzerland as soloist with the Greater hartford Youth Orchestra and in summer of 1988 toured Hungary and Poland with the Waterbury Chorale as accompanist and soloist. She has appeared as soloist at the presigious Brevard and Chautauqua Festivals, and has been featured artist on Connecticut Public Radio and WQXR in New York City.