PROGRAM NOTES

Concert #6 - Sounds of the Orchestral Sections

         

STRINGS

      

Concerto for Strings in G Major, RV 151, Antonio Vivaldi

Movement I:  Presto

Movement II:  Adagio

Movement III:  Allegro

    

Palladio Concerto grosso for string orchestra, Karl Kenkins

     Largo

     Allegretto 

    

Beauty and the Beast, Alan Menken, arranged Calvin Custer

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was an Italian Baroque composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher, and Roman Catholic priest.  Born in Venice, Vivaldi is regarded as one of the greatest Baroque composers.  His influence was widespread throughout Europe, including that of Johann Sebastian Bach’s instrumental music. 

 

The Concerto for Strings in G Major, RV 1512 is commonly referred to as the Concerto alla rustica (Italian for “rustic concerto”).  The piece was written between mid-1720 and 1730 during the time Vivaldi was working on his Contest Between Harmony and Inventiion, Op. 8, the work from which his best-known set of compositions, The Four Season, derive.

 

Sir Karl William Pamp Jenkins (born 17 February 1944) is a Welsh multi-instrumentalist and composer. His best known works include the song “Adiemus” and the Adiemus album series; Palladio; The Armed Man; and his Requiem.

          

Jenkins was educated in music at Cardiff University and the Royal Academy of Music: of the latter, he is a fellow and an Associate. For much of his early career, Jenkins was known as a jazz and jazz-rock musician, playing baritone and soprano saxophones, keyboards and oboe.  He joined jazz composer Graham Collier’s group and later co-founded the jazz-rock group Nucleus, which won first prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1970.

        

In 1972 he joined the Canterbury progressive rock band Soft Machine and became the group’s lead songwriter in 1974. The group played venues including The Proms, Carnegie Hall, and the Newport Jazz Festival. Jenkins has composed music for advertisement campaigns and has won the industry prize twice.

             

Palladio is a composition for string orchestra written in 1995, with the title referring to the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580). Motifs of the first movement, Allegretto, were used for a TV commercial of DeBeers, “A Diamond is Forever,” from 1993.  Then Jenkins completed a suite of three movements in the form of a concerto grosso for string orchestra, named Palladio, in reverence of the Renaissance architect

   

Harmonious proportions and mathematics play a role in music as in architecture. The architect Palladio based his designs on antique Roman models and studied especially the measurements of Vitruvius. Jenkins in turn based his music on Palladio's "harmonious mathematical principles".

          

Alan Irwin Menken (born July 22, 1949) is an American composer, songwriter, conductor, music director and record producer. Menken is best known for his scores and songs for films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. His scores and songs for The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and Pocahontas (1995) have each won him two Academy Awards. 

 

WINDS

       

Petite Symphonie by Charles Gounod

Movement I:  Adagio et Allegretto

Movement II:  Andante Cantabile

Movement III:  Scherzo

Movement IV:  Finale

 

Charles-François Gounod (1818-1893), usually known as Charles Gounod, was a French composer. He wrote twelve operas, of which the most popular has always been Faust (1859); his Roméo et Juliette (1867) also remains in the international repertory.  He was a life-log Parisian, except for a four-year stay in Rome after winning the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1839.  He came from an artistic family, including an artist father and pianist mother who was his first teacher. Gounod went on to study with Anton Reicha and later at the Paris Conservatoire.  Also a lifelong church devotee who almost entered the priesthood he was a prolific composer of sacred vocal and choral works. 

         

Gounod wrote the Petite Symphonie late in his career, in 1885, for flutist Paul Taffanel and his Societe de Musique de Chambre pour Instruments a Vent (Chamber Music Society for Wind Instruments), which premiered it in Paris that year. 

            

The first movement has a slow introduction followed by an allegro in sonata form.  The second is a gorgeous andante cantabile, almost an aria for flute.  The third is a spritely scherzo with trio.  The finale is another allegro that sparkles with lightness and energy.  

PERCUSSION

        

The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – Percussion Variation by Benjamin Britten, arranged for Percussion Quartet by Katherine Hajec  

       

Waltzing Rhythms by Maxine Lefever 

           

Drumbells by Wally Barnett

 

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) was an English composer, conductor, and pianist.  He was a central figure of 20th century British music, with a range of works including opera, orchestral, chamber and film music.  His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1945). 

 

The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra was written in 1945 with a subtitle Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell.  It was based on the second movement, "Rondeau", of the Abdelazer suite.  It was originally commissioned for the British educational documentary film called Instruments of the Orchestra released in November 1946.  

 

The form (Theme and Variations) introduces listeners to woodwinds (flute, piccolo, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon), strings (violins, violas, cellos, double bass, and harp), brass (horns, trumpet, trombone, and tuba), and percussion.

      

The variation for percussion introduces timpani, bass drum, cymbals, tambourine, triangle, snare drum, woodblock, xylophone, castanets, tam-tam, and whip.  A special thanks goes to Delaware County Symphony orchestra member Katherine Hajec for arranging this portion of the work for percussion quartet. 

          

The full work is one of the best-known pieces by Britten, and is often associated with two other works in music history: Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.

Maxine Lefever was Professor of Percussion and Assistant Director with the Purdue University Bands for 25 years. She is the composer of 32 published percussion ensembles and has written countless articles for national music publications. She served on the MENC foreign travel advisory committee and has lectured throughout the U.S. on the subjects of percussion performance and musical travel.

          

Ms. Lefever also served as director of Purdue's summer band camp, and was Vice President and Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the John Philip Sousa Foundation for 22 years.  In 1971 Maxine founded the American Musical Ambassadors, and has organized and directed European concert band tours for high school students each summer since then.

 

Wally Barnett (1916-2005) studied at Phillips University, University of Evansville, University of Illinois and the University of Southern California.  He has written well over 40 works for various percussion ensembles and books on proper mallet and drumming technique. 

BRASS

          

Canzon septimi toni No. 2, Sacrae Symphoniae, Venice, 1597 by Giovanni Gabrieli

 

Sonata Pian’ e Forte by Giovanni Gabrielli

    

Radetzky March, Op. 228 by Johann Strauss, Sr.

 

Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1554/1557 – 1612) was an Italian composer and organist.  One of the most influential musicians of his time,  Gabrieli composed his Canzon septimi toni for the majestic St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice, where he was organist and principal composer from 1585 until his death.  The Canzon comes from a collection of music that Gabrieli composed for church use and published in 1597 under the title Sacrae symphoniae. The pieces in the collection are for various combinations of brass instruments, whose players would have been placed antiphonally inside St. Mark's to take advantage of the church's acoustics and to enhance the developing musical material in dialogue between instrumental groups.   

     

One of the most influential musicians during the shift from the Renaissance to the Baroque era, it is no secret that Gabrieli committed himself primarily to vocal and sacred works.  However, his Canzon septimi toni No. 2 represents an important turn, not only in the composer’s career, but also in musical history.  This piece paved the way for what would soon become the new Baroque Concerto style, which remains popular to this day.

 

Sonata Pian’ e Forte, another work by Gabrieli, describes an instrumental piece using soft and loud dynamics. A more technical term would be Venetian polychoral style, which came from the architectural design of St. Mark’s Basilica.  This piece was likely composed as part of a Catholic service at St. Mark’s, Venice.  It again uses two brass choirs that would have been placed in opposing galleries in the cathedral.

 

Johann Strauss, Sr. (1804-1849) was an Austrian Romantic composer famous for his waltzes.  He popularized them alongside Joseph Lanner setting the foundations for his sons to carry on his musical dynasty. One of his best known compositions is the Radetzky March. The work was dedicated to Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz. First performed on August 31, 1848 in Vienna, it soon became popular with regimented marching soldiers.  The march conveys a more celebratory than martial tone.  Strauss was commissioned to write the piece to commemorate Radetzky’s victory at the Battle of Custoza.