Saturday, 15 September 2012

Boléro, by Maurice Ravel

From Wikipedia:

Boléro is a one-movement orchestral piece by Maurice Ravel (1875–1937). Originally composed as a ballet commissioned by Russian ballerina Ida Rubinstein, the piece, which premiered in 1928, is Ravel's most famous musical composition.[2] Before Boléro, Ravel had composed large scale ballets (such as Daphnis et Chloé, composed for the Ballets Russes 1909–1912), suites for the ballet (such as the second orchestral version of Ma Mère l'Oye, 1912), and one-movement dance pieces (such as La Valse, 1906–1920). Apart from such compositions intended for a staged dance performance, Ravel had demonstrated an interest in composing re-styled dances, from his earliest successes (the 1895 Menuet and the 1899 Pavane) to his more mature works like Le tombeau de Couperin (which takes the format of a dance suite).

Boléro epitomises Ravel's preoccupation with restyling and reinventing dance movements. It was also one of the last pieces he composed before illness forced him into retirement: the two piano concertos and the Don Quichotte à Dulcinée song cycle were the only compositions that followed Boléro.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

JalPari: Kuch is Tarah

Hary Janos Suite part 5/6: Intermezzo by Zoltan Kodaly

From Wikipedia:

Háry János is a "Hungarian folk opera" (that is, a spoken play with songs, in the manner of a Singspiel) in four acts by Zoltán Kodály to a Hungarian libretto by Béla Paulini (1881-1945) and Zsolt Harsányi, based on the comic epic The Veteran (Az obsitos) by János Garay. The first performance was at the Royal Hungarian Opera House, Budapest, 1926. The sub-title of the piece is Háry János kalandozásai Nagyabonytul a Burgváráig - János Háry: his Adventures from Nagyabony to the Vienna Burg. The UK stage premiere was at the Buxton Festival in 1982 conducted by Anthony Hose with Alan Opie in the title role.

The story is of a veteran hussar in the Austrian army in the first half of the 19th century who sits in the village inn regaling his listeners with fantastic tales of heroism (in the tradition of Miles Gloriosus). His supposed exploits include winning the heart of the Empress Marie Louise, the wife of Napoleon, and then single-handedly defeating Napoleon and his armies. Nevertheless, he finally renounces all riches in order to go back to his village with his sweetheart.

Kodály wrote in his preface to the score: "Háry is a peasant, a veteran soldier who day after day sits at the tavern spinning yarns about his heroic exploits... the stories released by his imagination are an inextricable mixture of realism and naivety, of comic humour and pathos." He also comments that "though superficially he appears to be merely a braggart, essentially he is a natural visionary and poet. That his stories are not true is irrelevant, for they are the fruit of a lively imagination, seeking to create, for himself and for others, a beautiful dream world." Háry János embodies the poetic power of folklore to go beyond political frustrations; Kodály intended to bring his national folk music to an operatic setting.

The opera, and the suite, begin with an orchestral 'musical sneeze', best explained in Kodály's own words: "According to Hungarian superstition, if a statement is followed by a sneeze of one of the hearers, it is regarded as confirmation of its truth. The Suite begins with a sneeze of this kind! One of Háry's group of faithful listeners … sneezes at the wildest assertions of the old tale-spinner."

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor-Allegro energico-Presto (3rd mvt.) by Max Bruch

From Wikipedia:

The third movement, the finale, opens with an extremely intense, yet quiet, orchestral introduction that yields to the soloist's statement of the exuberant theme in brilliant double stops. It is very much like a dance that moves at a comfortably fast and energetic tempo. The second subject is a fine example of Romantic lyricism, a slower melody which cuts into the movement several times, before the dance theme returns with its fireworks. The piece ends with a huge accelerando, leading to a fiery finish that gets higher as it gets faster and louder and eventually concludes with two short, yet grand, chords.