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UMS Concert Program, March 19, 1981: International Presentations Of Music & Dance -- The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

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Season: 102nd
Concert: Fifty-first
Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
@@@@ANDRE PREVIN Music Director and Conductor
Thursday Evening, March 19, 1981, at 8:30 Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Symphony No. 82 in C major, "L'Ours" (The Bear) ... . Haydn
Vivace Allegretto
Menuetto: un poco allegretto Finale: vivace assai
Rapsodie espagnole............Ravel
Prelude a la nuit Malaguena Habanera Feria
Symphony No. 5, Op. 100.........Prokofiev
Allegro marcato Adagio
Allegro giocoso
Everest and AngelEMI Records.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performs its eleventh concert in Ann Arbor this evening as part of the "American Orchestras on Tour" program of the Bell System, partially funded by the Bell System in association with the Michigan Bell Telephone Company. The Orchestra first performed in Ann Arbor in 1899 under the baton of Victor Herbert; Andri Previn has previously appeared here in 1973 and 1974 with the London Symphony Orchestra.
102nd Season -Fifty-first Concert 102nd Annual Choral Union Series
PROGRAM NOTES by Frederick Dorian
Symphony No. 82 in C major, "L'Ours" (The Bear) . Franz Joseph Haydn
Although Haydn never visited France, the significance of his music was early recognized in Paris. As early as 1764, announcement was made of the forthcoming publication of four of his string quartets. In 1784 Haydn accepted a commission from the Concert de la Loge Olympique to compose six symphonies which have come to be known as the "Paris Symphonies." Identified as Nos. 82-87, some of them have French soubriquets: No. 82, "L'Ours" (The Bear); No. 83, "La Poule" (The Hen); and No. 85, "La Reine" (The Queen). These subtitles do not stem from Haydn himself--the French soubriquets were intended to emphasize some external aspect of detail in the scores. The basic spirit of Haydn's music is neither programmatic nor is it predominantly humorous. It is, in fact, replete with earnest and even dramatic inventions often relieved by sublime tranquility. It is the coexistence of such contrasting moods that lends a particular attraction to this neglected masterpiece.
It is the fourth movement of the Symphony No. 82 which is the source of its merry and unusual subtitle, "L'Ours." The jolly tune, evolving above the oslinalo of the growling bass, gave the Parisians the idea of a dancing bear who clumsily moves to the music of a country fair. We have no proof that Haydn had such a carnival in mind. But his instrumental effects, borrowed from folk music, were something new and striking in the 1780s. Haydn made further use of the droll bass motive by transporting it to the higher register, while the basses continue to play their frolicsome dance.
Below the last bars of the Symphony, Haydn wrote: "Finis Laus Deo," thus thanking the Lord for the completion of his work, and, as he did habitually, Haydn wrote on the opening page of the score, "In Nomine Domini." His desire to uplift the spirit of his listeners, to give them pleasure and sometimes to brighten the music with humor, may also be seen as an act of faith.
Rapsodie espagnole..........Maurice Ravel
"I am Basque!" was Maurice Ravel's favorite statement concerning his ethnic and cultural background. He was the son of a Basque mother; his father was a French-Swiss engineer. Throughout his life, the usually taciturn composer spoke warmly of his spiritual solidarity with the Pays Basque, a region marked for centuries by an indigenous civilization. The Basque majority lives in four of Spain's northern provinces; the minority, to which Ravel belonged, lives across the border in France. The Basque idiom, in particular, shows a curious independence from the languages spoken by the surrounding Spanish and French neighbors. Implacable enemies of tyranny, the Basques retain a fierce desire for sovereignty, and have long opposed undemocratic policies of the Spanish government.
Ravel's birthplace was Cilbourne, a quaint village close to the Spanish border. His family left Cilbourne soon after Maurice's birth, and settled in Paris. Here his mother kept the Basque cultural heritage alive and, as a result, the composer never lost his deep attachment to his ethnic roots. He grew up in Montmarte, the traditional seat of the artists' colony in the French capital. He followed the path of many famous French musicians by entering the Conservatoire, receiving all of his education at this traditional school. His most important teachers were Gabriel Faure (composition) and Andre Gedalge (counterpoint and fugue). Under the supervision of such outstanding pedagogues, Ravel acquired the traditional virtues of French music: technical precision of workmanship, economy of statement, refinement of expression, and a keen sense of color. In contrast to some distinguished French composers, past and present. Ravel never held an official teaching position. He had a few private students, among them Ralph Vaughan Williams, who referred to the music of Ravel as being "complex but not complicated."
The most "Spanish" of all of Ravel's compositions is the Rapsodie espagnole; it is a cyclic composition of four movements, completed in 1907.
Prelude a la nuil, the first movement, commences "very moderately" with a gentle tone line, given out by the muted violins and violas. A cadenza for two clarinets is interspersed. There is a brief reprise of the initial pattern.
Without a break, the Malaxuena follows. By Spanish tradition, it is performed by only two dancers who never touch each other, even with their hands. The Malaguena opens in the low registers. Strings and trumpets blend in provocative triple rhythm. In slower time and free recitation, the English horn blows a whimsical solo. The initial motives return briefly.
Next we listen to the originally-Cuban dance of the Habanera. Oboe and English horn take the lead, until attention shifts to the four-times-divided violins. The Habanera theme returns and dies away.
The finale is the Feria, the festival of the people. It is ushered in by a leaping theme of the solo flute, "sufficiently fast," in swift 68 rhythm. Of the entire Rapsodie this farewell dance is the most fiery. It displays Ravel's impressionistic orchestra in a true virtuoso manner.
The first performance of the Rapsodie espagnole took place in Paris on March 19, 1908; Edouard Colonne conducted.
Symphony No. 5, Op. 100........Sergei Prokofiev
Prokofiev completed the Fifth Symphony toward the end of World War II. The score is identified as Opus number 100, a high figure and a landmark which symbolizes many achieve?ments of an industrious and creative life. The composer had eight years left to add more works to the remarkable catalogue of his total production.
Though severe criticism was hurled at the composer from official Soviet quarters, Prokofiev tried to come to terms with the Russian government and its iron-clad control of art. Sometimes he succeeded brilliantly in this attempt. The reasons for this paradox can be found at the core of his musical nature. Prokofiev's overall style is inherently one of high com-municability.
By 1932, the Soviets officially demanded such a style from their creative artists. It was natural for Prokofiev to cope with such guideposts. Russian nationalism was not inimical to his aesthetics. From his fertile and facile workshop came score after score, marked by impeccable craftmanship. At the same time, these works fulfilled the specific requirements of populism, i.e. of specific style characteristics set down by the Russian government. This marks a rare achievement. Here is music which, while aiming at popularity with the masses, can also main?tain its artistic standard.
What, then, are some of the stylistic factors that contributed to Prokofiev's eventual success on both fronts Before all, his melodic gift. Thus the Fifth Symphony is distinguished by the natural flow of its themes: the contours of its melos show a fundamental kinship with Russian folksong.
From Prokofiev's early works on, we note the dominant role of melody, but its function varies according to the task at hand. A work like the Classical Symphony (1916) shows the influence of Haydn, and its texture is generally simplified. Twenty years later, the fairy tale Peter and the Wolf (1936) charms children (as well as adults) with its melodic spontaneity and tunefulness.
Meanwhile, the success of Prokofiev's music abroad proved an embarrassment at home. Influential Soviet musicians labeled the composer a "bourgeois artist." In 1940, the inevitable happened. Prokofiev found himself the target of increasing attacks. In self-defense, he promised "improvement." Whatever his true feelings toward his critics might have been, the next creative period appears in retrospect as Prokofiev's most felicitous. This is the period in which he composed the Fifth Symphony.
The Fifth Symphony was first performed on March 3, 1945, in Moscow. The composer took pains to assure the authorities that he was now seeking "a clearer and worthier musical language." Prokofiev dedicated the score to "spirit of man."
The opening andante (B-flat, 34) displays from its first eight-bar period the flow and naturalness of Prokofiev's thematic invention. Flutes and bassoons announce the principal subject. Its wide arch is later divided into segments for the purpose of symphonic development. The inaugurating theme, with its diatonic scale and triad patterns, is soon contrasted by a woodwind theme poco piu mosso. It is played by flute and oboe in octaves. Temporarily, the meter is extended to 44. Restoring the tempo primo, the development of the movement com?ments first on the main theme, heard sotlo voce. Eventually, other material of the exposition appears, now in metric variation, now in contrapuntal raiment. There is an imposing recapitula?tion, followed by a code of epic breadth. One might feel in this music a bridge between the quiet of rural Russia and the bustling machine-like energy of her industrial regions. The scoring is "modern" in terms of its lucidity, brilliance and unsentimentality. At the same time, the music has depth and vitality.
The allegro marcato (D minor, 44) contributes much to the popular appeal of the Symphony. Here is music of verve and humor. Occasionally, the style is reminiscent of Prokofiev's Classical Symphony or of certain sections of his opera Love for Three Oranges. Within the cycle of the Fifth Symphony, this second movement serves as a vividly contrasting scherzo, cleverly placed between the expansive opening and the oncoming dark adagio. The scherzo is based on a con?stantly repeated phrase. It evolves from an ostinato, heard first in the violins (with a motive of leaping thirds). The solo clarinet blows a theme of ironic wit. There are nostalgic glances at old melodic formulas. The music assumes turbulent character before turning to a trio of some?what naive expression. At a repeat of the scherzo, we hear a grotesque treatment of the opening material.
The adagio is tragic. Dramatic climaxes bring a heroic aspect to this slow movement. Woodwinds carry the expressive melody in 34 (clarinet and bass clarinet, with the second strain entrusted to the flute and bassoon). The folk feeling of the broad melody attains in Prokofiev's harmonization an individual note. The level of tonality sinks a half tone from F to E; when the strings assume the central section, the theme grows into a broad lament. The full orchestra participates in its confession. There is a gradual fade-out, pin lento.
In the finale, an optimistic mood gains the upper hand: this fourth movement is an allegro giocoso. Bassoons propose a motive, dolce. The following poco pin tranquillo restates the chief theme of the first movement in augmentation, performed by four-times-divided cellos. Later in the finale, we recognize reminiscence from the preceding adagio. Meanwhile lyric episodes dam the current of the allegro. The music assumes briefly the tone of delightful conversation. But it takes momentum. Now the orchestra collects its forces, and the last section storms into a fiery march. Strings and winds drive thematic fragments to wild excitement and to the crashing end of the Fifth Symphony.
Remaining Concerts
Preservation Hall Jazz Band.......Mon. Mar. 23
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra Kurt Masur . . . Sun. Mar. 29
Mozart: Serenata Notturna, K. 239; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1 in F minor; Beethoven: Symphony No. 7.
Faculty Artists Concert.........Sun. Apr. 5
"Virtuoso Music for Wind Instruments."
Guarneri String Quartet (sold out)......Mon. Apr. 20
Western Opera Theater, "Elixir of Love" .... Thurs. Apr. 23
Ann Arbor May Festival, 1981
Wednesday-Saturday, April 29, 30, May 1, 2, in Hill Auditorium The Philadelphia Orchestra
Eugene Ormandy, Conductor Laureate Aldo Ceccato. Guest Conductor Judith Blegen, Soprano Ani Kavafian, Violinist
Gyorgy Sandor, Pianist
The University Choral Union
Faye Robinson, Soprano John Gilmore, Tenor
{Catherine Ciesinski, Mezzo-soprano John Cheek, Bass
Wednesday--Ormandy and Blegen; Barber: Second Essay; Mozart: Exultate, Jubilate; Rach?maninoff: Vocalise: Stravinsky: Pastorale: Ravel: Habanera; Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5.
Thursday--Ceccato and Kavafian: Rossini: Overture to Semiramide; Bruch: Violin Concerto in G minor; Dvorak: Symphony No. 8.
Friday--Ceccato, Choral Union, Robinson, Ciesinski, Gilmore, Cheek: Mozart: Symphony No. 41 ("Jupiter"); Rossini: Stabat Mater.
Saturday--Ormandy and Sandor: Harris: Symphony No. 3; Bartok; Third Piano Concerto, Concerto for Orchestra.
Series tickets still available at $40, $30, $20, $18; single concert tickets now on sale, from $5 to $15.
"100 Years of Great Performances"
This brand-new publication of the University Musical Society is available in the lobby this afternoon for your perusal and purchase. In its 208 pages is a wealth of human interest and information, including: a 100th Season Anniversary Guest Book, handwritten greetings from each artist who performed that season; personal letters from nearly 200 artists who share reminiscences of their Ann Arbor performances over the years; a 100-year history tracing the Musical Society's growth from the small "Messiah Club" in 1879 to its present-day stature; and a roster of performing artists who appeared under our auspices from 1879 through 1979.
This anniversarysouvenir book is also available for purchase ($10 per copy) in our Burton Tower office, and at the following Ann Arbor locations: Borders Book Shop, Liberty Music Shop, and Little Professor Book Center.
Burton Memorial Tower. Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109 Phone: 665-3717, 764-2538

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