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Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)
El Amor Brujo
Composed in 1916

In 1914 El Amor Brujo was commissioned as a gypsy dance piece by famous flamenco gypsy dancer, Pastora Imperio. The work, featuring a chamber orchestra, cantaora voice (flamenco singing) and actors, premiered in Madrid, Spain the following year. After an unsuccessful run, de Falla rewrote the work by cutting the length, enlarging the orchestra, and reducing the vocal aspects to a solo mezzo-soprano in 1916. Later in 1924 and 1925, he again rewrote the piece as a ballet and piano suite respectively.

Focusing on the enlarged orchestration, El Amour Brujo is the story of a gypsy woman named Candela. As a young lady, she is expected to take part in an arranged marriage, but her heart belongs to another man Carmelo. Years go by and Candela’s husband is murdered. To her surprise, her deceased husband comes back to haunt her. Although most in her village know about the haunting, she is still branded as crazy because she dances with her husband’s ghost every night. Now free to pursue her true love, she tries a ritual dance with Carmelo to cast off the ghost, but to no avail. Eventually, she finds out that she was betrayed by her former husband and tricks his lover into coming over one evening, only to cast the ghost onto this deceitful woman.

The orchestrated work features three songs, Dance of Terror, Song of Wildfire, and Dance of the Game of Love. The work was turned into a movie in 1967 and 1986, winning the Spanish equivalent of an Oscar. Likewise, famous jazz musician Miles Davis recorded an arrangement of the Song of Wildfire, for his collaborative album Sketches of Spain.

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Cello Concerto No. 1 in C
Composed between 1761-1765

Haydn was such a prolific composer and advocate for the arts that he is now commonly known as the “Father of the Symphony and String Quartet.” From an early age, Haydn knew of the influential potential of music and wanted it to be accessible for many, including those unable to attend live orchestral concerts. Therefore, he created many traditional forms of chamber music, meaning music written for performance in smaller, intimate venues such as a person’s house. Although considered to be a significant work in his catalogue, the music was lost until 1961 when it was discovered in Prague.

Originally written to ensure that the best players from the Esterhazy Orchestra in Austria stayed with the group, the piece was written for cellist Joseph Weigl. Upon exploring records from the day, no other cellist has been located from that time period, leading many to think that Weigl was the only cello player and a perfect fit for a solo concerto. This concerto was written for a very small chamber orchestra to highlight the virtuosity of the soloist. Opening the piece is a triumphant cello cord which develops into back and forth with the orchestral (backing) strings. Written in a manner to show off the lushness of the cello, this particular concerto did a lot to dispel the age-old notion that cellos were strictly for the bass-line.

Written in three movements, the third movement stands out for the fantastic development of the orchestra. The orchestra starts out with a pulsing bass-line and rushing violin lines that are simply striking, giving that the orchestra, not the soloist, carries the melody.

Then the cello enters, like a shooting star on a moonlit night, starting with long-held notes developing into large chords and runs. As a cellist, it is hard to not be exhausted after playing such an intensive piece of music.

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Symphony No. 3
Composed in 1815

Although he lived a short life, Franz Schubert used his time to the fullest creating beautiful music and forging important relationships. As a composition student of Antonio Salieri (remember the movie, Amadeus, when he mused that he killed Mozart), Schubert learned how to master Classical era ideas and merge them into Romantic era music. He incorporated many of those ideas into his third symphony, premiering only after his death. Composed in 1815, arguably his most productive year of writing, he was a schoolmaster working full-time but still found time to write two piano sonatas, themes and variations, a string quartet, two mass parts and a lot of choral music. Let’s just say that he was an overachiever, Schubert did his best work at that fast pace, once jotting down a complete song on the back of
a café menu!

Written with many traces of classical greats Haydn and Mozart, Schubert keeps a cheerful spirit, replacing the normally slow second movement with a joyful Allegretto. Schubert wrote this symphony to sound characteristically German. Even his choice of format includes reminiscent parts of the Deutscher or German Dance, consisting of rustic melodies that can be heard from wine taverns in the Bavarian region of the country.

Starting off with a dramatic opening to the piece, two introductions are present leading up to an interplay between a solo clarinet and syncopated (off-beat) strings. Schubert employs prudent timpani accents to highlight that syncopation and to provide rolls to signal changes in the harmony. In the pleasant Allegretto and Minuet traditional scherzo (fast tempo) rules the day contrasted by a graceful Ländler-like trio. The finale includes the popular Italian tarnantella rhythm known for its bold progressions and contrast of sound. Schubert strove to write a balanced piece in his signature style.

2024-2025 Season

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