Spanish Festival (Gunter Appenheimer/ Keith Clark/ Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.550086)
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SpanishFestival Volume 1
MikhailIvanovich Glinka (1804 - 1857)
Capriccio brillante on the Jota aragonesa
SummerNight in Madrid
NikolayAndreyevlch Rimsky-Korsakov (1844 - 1908)
Capriccioespagnol, Opus 34
EmmanuelChabrier (1841 - 1894)
EdwardElgar (1857 - 1934)
JulesMassenet (1842 - 1912)
Balletmusic from Le Cid
Sevillanafrom Don Cesar de Bazan
Spainexercised a curious fascination over the nationalist composers of the nineteenth century,with a particular appeal in Russia, a country that was finding again its own identity inliterature and music, after the Westernisation initiated by Peter the Great.
MikhailIvanovich Glinka was a pioneer of Russian musical nationalism. He was born on the familyestate near Smolensk in 1804 and spent much of his childhood in the care of his paternalgrandmother, a woman whose care for him effectively undermined his health, which mighthave improved with a breath of fresh air. In 1810, when his grandmother died, he returnedto his parents and began to widen his musical experience, which up to that time had beenlargely of folk-music. Further musical opportunities occurred at school in St. Petersburg,where he had a few lessons from John Field and played to the Bratislava virtuoso Hummel,to his approval. He was later to avoid serious employment and to devote himself to music,improving his abilities as a composer by study in Italy and in Germany.
Glinka'sfirst real achievement was in the creation of a genuinely Russian opera, A Life for theTsar, which he completed in 1836. Ruslan and Lyudmila, completed six years later, wasrather less successful at first, although it was gradually to win acceptance. It was withsome idea of composing a Spanish opera that in 1845 Glinka went to Spain. The result wasnot an opera but the first of his so-called SpanishOvertures, the Capriccio brillante on the Aragonese dance, the iota, a work inthe structure of sonata form. A second Spanish Overture was to follow in 1848, when hisapplication for a passport to Paris had been refused and he found himself obliged to spendthe winter in Warsaw. Making use of material he had gathered in Spain, he wrote the Recuerdos de Castilla, later revising it as Souvenir d'une nuit d'ete a Madrid. The piece isbased on four Spanish folk-tunes, varied and expanded.
Rimsky-Korsakov'sfamous Capriccio espagnol began as aFantasia on Spanish Themes for violin and orchestra, but was eventually completed in 1887in its present form. Rimsky-Korsakov belonged to the musical generation after Glinka andonce he had relinquished his original career as a naval officer devoted himself to thecause of Russian music with a professionalism that some of his contemporaries lacked. Hewas one of the five nationalist composers, Stasov's MightyHandful, under the influence of Balakirev, and possessed particular ability inorchestration, a gift he was later to exercise in removing apparent crudities from themusic of Musorgsky and in completing what Borodin had left undone. He stressed that thebrilliant Capriccio espagnol was intended asa display of orchestral colour, an aim which it achieves admirably.
TheFrench might be forgiven for a certain preoccupation with the very different traditionalmusic of their geographical neighbours. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries offervarious examples of this interest, from Saint-Sa?½ns, Lalo and Bizet to Ravel and Debussy.
Emmanuel Chabrier, like his Russian contemporaries, was intended by his family for asecurer career than any that music could offer. He showed exceptional ability as a pianistas a child, but studied law and took employment in the Ministry of the Interior in Paris.
It was not until 1880, eleven years after the death to his parents, that he became afull-time musician. His colourful orchestral piece Espanawas written in the following year, its inspiration a visit to Spain. It hasalways enjoyed popularity, a success not shared by the dramatic works by which thecomposer set considerable store.
JulesMassenet was primarily a composer of opera, a field in which he dominated the Frenchtheatre in the later years of the nineteenth century. From a relatively humble background,he took piano lessons as a child from his mother and entered the Paris Conservatoire atthe age of eleven. He was to become a composition pupil of Ambroise Thomas and won theimportant Prix de Rome, his stay in Rome bringing him the acquaintance of Liszt.
Massenet'sopera Le Cid is based on the great play onthe subject of the Spanish hero by Corneille. The work met little success, having none ofthe pathos of Manon or the stormyromanticism of Werther. The ballet music, however, preserves the spirit of Spain, afeature apparent in the Sevillana taken from the earlier opera Don Cesarde Bazan, which had won success at theOpera-Comique in 1872. The work is based on Victor Hugo's Ruy Bias, which had had earlier musical offspring.
TheEnglish composer Edward Elgar, whether pictured at Ascot, or, more appropriately, in hisbeloved West Country, might seem particularly remote from anything Spanish. He was born inBroadheath, near Worcester, in 1857, the son of a piano-tuner with a music-shop inWorcester, where he was active in local musical life. Elgar rose from these relativelyhumble origins to a position that was to identify him, in the popular mind at least, withthe confident Establishment of Edwardian England. The impression is misleading. WhileElgar did provide music for royal and imperial occasions and did celebrate patriotic viewsthat may no longer be fashionable, he was at the same time a composer of significanceamong the late Romantic symphonists of European music, a musician of sensitivity andimagination.
Sevillana,completed in 1884, was the first orchestral work by Elgar to be played in London. Thecomposer's contact with Spain was purely literary, but it was an interest that was toreappear from time to time in later works.
CzechRadio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava)
TheCzech Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava), the oldest symphonic ensemble in Slovakia,was founded in 1929 at the instance of Milos Ruppeldt and Oskar Nedbal, prominentpersonalities in the sphere of music. The orchestra was first conducted by the Pragueconductor Frantiek Dyk and in the course of the past fifty years of its existencehas worked under the batons of several prominent Czech and Slovak conductors. OndrejLenard was appointed its conductor in 1970 and in 1977 its conductor-in-chief. Theorchestra has recently given a number of successful concerts both at home and abroad, inWest and East Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Spain, Italy, and Great Britain.
KeithClark studied at the Vienna Academy of Music and Tanglewood, was awarded diplomas and theconducting prize from the Chigiana Academy in Italy, and received his Ph. D. degree withhonors in composition from the University of California in Los Angeles. From Vienna'sMusikverein to the Royal Philharmonic Hall and from Lucerne to Los Angeles, Keith Clarkhas appeared widely as conductor of orchestras and opera, He has participated in theVienna, Bucharest and Siena Festivals as both conductor and composer, conducted on BBC,Austrian. Hungarian and Netherlands radio and television, and performed and recorded asconduct