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UMS Concert Program, September 28, 1987: International Presentations Of Music & Dance -- Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

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Season: 109th
Concert: Fourth
Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Monday Evening, September 28, 1987, at 8:00 Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Overture to Beatrice et Benedict..................................... Berlioz
La Mer (Three Symphonic Sketches) .............................. Debussy
De l'aube a midi sur la mer
Jeux de vagues
Dialogue du vent et de la mer
Symphony No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 55 ........................... Elgar
Andante nobilmente e semplice, Allegro Allegro molto Adagio Lento, Allegro
Telarc, Philips, RCA, and RPO Records in association with MCA Classics.
The University Musical Society acknowledges with thanks the generosity of Ford Motor Company Fund for underwriting the production and printing costs of this program.
Cameras and recording devices are not allowed in the auditorium.
Hall's Cough Tablets, courtesy of Warner-Lambert, are available in the lobby.
Fourth Concert of the 109th Season 109th Annual Choral Union Series
Overture to Beatrice et Benedict............................. Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz, one of the great figures of nineteenth-century Romanticism, had, by 1841, grown weary of what he perceived as the musical philistinism of Paris. For the next twenty years he sought to advance his stature as a composer by spurning France and turning to other European countries, primarily Germany, Austria, Russia, and England, in order to present his works and develop an international reputation. In 1853 he was engaged as guest conductor in Baden-Baden and regularly returned to this southwest German city for the next decade. In Baden-Baden he made the acquaintance of the manager of the local casino, Benazet. Of this impresario, Berlioz wrote that he "let me have everything I could possibly want for the performance of my works." Benazet built a theater in Baden-Baden and commissioned Berlioz to compose an opera for its inauguration. Berlioz began work on the commission in 1860, turning to the plays of Shakespeare for inspiration as he had done previously with his grand overture Le Roi Lear and dramatic symphony Romeo el Juliette; he fashioned the libretto of Beatrice et Benedict from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Despite the fact that he experienced tremendous physical suffering from what was at the time termed "intestinal neuralgia," a condition which plagued him for the last ten years of his life, Berlioz took much pleasure in the creation of his opera comique. He placed the date February 25, 1862, on the last page of what was to become his final manuscript. He conducted the opera's premiere in Baden-Baden on August 9, 1862.
In reference to Beatrice et Benedict, Berlioz wrote, "It is a caprice written with a point of a needle," and this is a most apt description of the music's overall light textures. The Overture, longer than most with a duration of approximately eight minutes, opens with a scherzando section telescoping the comedy to ensue. This is followed by an andante section which prominently features the horns. The opening section then returns, albeit more embellished and elaborated, and the Overture concludes with great verve and energy.
La Mer (Three Symphonic Sketches) ....................... Claude Debussy
The term "Impressionism" was coined in the mid-nineteenth century to describe a new theory of aesthetics in painting and literature predicated upon a rejection of the forms and practices of the past -most particularly against the Romantic predilection for the expression of heroism, sentimentality, and exaggerated pathos. The Impressionist painters -among them Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Cezanne -emphasized design, color, and light rather than form and substance. The Impressionist poets, such as Mallarme, Baudelaire, and Verlaine (also referred to as Symbolists), sought to appeal to the senses rather than the intellect of their readers by utilizing words, for example, for the sake of their "color" rather than meaning. Impressionists valued the feeling or impression aroused by a subject more than the subject itself.
As a young man, Debussy was influenced by both of these groups of artists. In embracing the aesthetic ideals of the Impressionists, he rejected the musical traditions and forms of the past. In his music, he sought to emphasize a new freedom of expression largely inspired by his close observation of nature. He wrote: "Music is the expression of the movement of the waters, the play of curves described by changing breezes. There is nothing more musical than a sunset. He who feels what he sees will find no more beautiful development in all that book which, alas, musicians read but too little -the book of Nature."
Debussy began work on La Mer in 1903 and completed the score on March 5, 1905, at Eastbourne, a town on the southern coast of England he described as "peaceful and charming." La Mer's first performance took place in Paris at the Concerts Lamoureux in October 1905, Camillc Chevillard conducting. The composer subsequently conducted the work in London and Paris in 1908.
Debussy himself gave La Mer the subtitle "Three Symphonic Sketches." Nonetheless, to term the three sections of La Mer as "sketches," given their symphonic scope and refined detail, is truly an exercise in understatement. Leon Vallas, Debussy's biographer, contended that, taken as a whole. La Mer so closely follows symphonic principles of organization that the work could legitimately be considered a "symphony" with its sections appropriately retitlcd Allegro, Scherzo, and Finale.
In the first sketch, "De l'aube a midi sur la mer" (from Dawn till Noon on the Sea), the music begins quietly and placidly with gentle undulating figures capturing the billowing quality of undisturbed waters. The music proceeds to grow and swell as if it were "awakening," and the pace of the music quickens and the dynamic level increases. The sketch concludes with a triumphant chorale scored for brass. The first sketch leads directly without pause into the second, "Jeux de vagues" (Play of the Waves), which is a study of the motion of the waves in sunlight. It features melodic fragments and ostinato patterns varied in rhythm and color and overlapping to portray the play of the waves. After a brief pause, the third sketch, "Dialogue du vent et de la mer" (Dialogue of the Wind and the Sea), commences and is a study of the waves interacting with the wind. The music is at times calm, at other times grows more restive, then returns to calm once more. The drama of the final sketch is
commanding. Earlier musical material reappears, including the chorale melody of the first sketch, which builds to an incredible and explosive climax. Although each of the three sketches of La Mer could be considered complete tone poems, Debussy so thoroughly integrated them within the work that it is hard to imagine them performed alone apart from the overall context of the work.
Symphony No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 55..................... Edward Elgar
The two completed symphonies of Sir Edward Elgar reserve for him a special place in the musical history of England. In terms of their sheer technique, lyrical content, distinction of form, and robust orchestration, one is hard-pressed to think of another symphonic offering by a British composer pre-dating Elgar that can stand on an equal footing with either of these works. Sadly, ill-health impeded progress on the sketches for his intended third symphony, and Elgar died in early 1934 with the work unfinished. It was his last request that no one tamper with the sketches and, further, that they remain unfinished and unpublished.
Elgar is reported to have first contemplated writing a symphony in 1898. At the time, however, the focus of his attention was concentrated on completing his first important work for orchestra, the "Enigma" Variations, Op. 36. This work was a splendid success and brought Elgar international fame for the first time. The success of his oratorio, "The Dream of Gerontius," Op. 38, confirmed his stature as an important English composer.
Elgar began actual work on the Symphony in A-flat major in June 1907 and completed it in September 1908. The effort is reported to have thoroughly exhausted him. The Symphony received its premiere on December 3, 1908, at a Halle Concert in Manchester, Hans Richter conducting. Elgar, in fact, had dedicated the Symphony to Richter, citing him as a "true artist and true friend." The premiere was a great success -the audience burst into applause after the Adagio movement, and Elgar was called to take repeated bows before the Finale was performed. At the finish, the orchestra rose with the audience in standing ovation to laud the work and its composer. Four days later, Richter conducted the London premiere of the Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra. The work received a similar reception, and Richter proclaimed that it was "the greatest symphony of modern times." In a little over a year, the Symphony received 100 performances.
The introduction to Symphony No. 1 is marked Andante nobilmente e semplice. The term nobilmente was used often by English composers in the early twentieth century. Elgar, in particular, had a propensity for employing the term and used it to indicate tempo as well as a mark for expression. The term is actually found as early as the late seventeenth century -Francois Couperin, for example, often noted the direction nobiement sans lenteur (nobly without being slow) in his music. Heralded by a drum roll, the principal thematic idea of the entire Symphony -a slow and sinuous melody which serves as a motto of sorts -is first heard in the violas and woodwinds played dolce over a pulsing from the lower strings. This theme, which will reoccur at various times throughout the Symphony, is then repeated by the full orchestra, achieving a grandiosity as the music swells and gradually gets louder. The expansive main Allegro section of the first movement follows, introducing a restless appassionato theme. After the presentation of the second theme group containing three thematic ideas, an extensive development section occurs wherein Elgar presents the main theme of this group in a particularly poignant treatment. The movement's climax, first announced by the brass, presents the principal theme of the Symphony's introduction, this time heard in the violas and violins. This theme eventually comes to dominate the entire orchestra and brings the movement to a tranquil and sensitively scored finish.
The second movement, Allegro molto, begins with a gentle murmuring from the lower strings, after which the first violins present the opening melody, played rapidly and softly, which is immediately answered by the flutes and clarinets. A second melody of a marchlike character is presented by the violas and clarinets over a pounding bass. The music grows more subdued, and the flutes then present a lilting tune of a light and nostalgic character played in sixths. The impetuous first melody then returns, followed shortly by the gentler flute theme which gradually overtakes the first melody. The music grows more subdued and slower, and the third movement follows without a pause.
The first subject of the Adagio is identical (in terms of notes) to the main theme of the second movement. Nevertheless, it is masterfully transformed into a glorious and rich expanse of music. The mood of the slow movement is one of solace and aptly demonstrates the "heart" of its composer with its stirring emotional depths. Near the end of the movement, the "motto" theme of the Symphony's introduction reappears, slightly altered in its melodic contour. The final bars of the Adagio feature a gentle and plaintive passage scored for clarinet performing over muted strings and trombone, creating a haunting, almost melancholy coda.
The Finale, marked Lento, Allegro, recalls material first encountered in the opening movement of the Symphony. The music has a stormy and ominous character, and intimations of the "motto" theme are heard. The resolute theme of the main Allegro section follows. It is a restless and jaunty tune with fragments of the "motto" interwoven within it. Toward the end of the Finale, the "motto" theme, brilliantly orchestrated, returns in its original form, thus unifying the entire work and concluding the Symphony.
About the Artists
Under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the most highly esteemed orchestras in the world, appearing annually in more than 200 concerts at home and abroad. The orchestra has appeared at most leading international festivals, including those of Edinburgh, Glyndcbournc, Montreux, Strcsa, Lucerne, and Istanbul. The Philharmonic's current tour, its eighth of the United States, marks Andre Prcvin's first tour of the United States as principal conductor of the orchestra. Other recent touring activities include a major tour comprising nine concerts in Germany and performances in Switzerland, Austria, and North America, a three-week visit to Japan and South Korea, and numerous trips throughout Europe.
In May 1986 the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra launched its own record label, RPO Records, which is run solely by orchestra members. Already available are William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, conducted by Andre Prcvin, and Handel's Water Music Suite and Royal Fireworks Music, conducted by Sir Yehudi Mcnuhin, the orchestra's president and associate conductor. These records arc distributed in North America by MCA Classics.
Other recordings by Andre Previn and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra arc Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony and Rachmaninoffs Second Symphony (Tclarc) and Elgar's First Symphony (Philips). The orchestra's diverse activities also involve achievements in other media. The RPO has recorded film soundtracks (among them Maurice Jarre's Oscar-winning score for "A Passage to India") and appeared on many television broadcasts, including two highly acclaimed series with Andre Previn for the BBC.
Founded by Sir Thomas Bcecham, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra gave its first concert on September 15, 1946. Sir Thomas held the title of Music Director from 1946 until his death in 1961; he was succeeded by Rudolf Kempe, Antal Dorati, and Walter Weller. Since 1963 the RPO has been governed by its members, each of whom holds shares in RPO Ltd. The title "Royal" in the orchestra's name was conferred upon the orchestra by the Queen in 1966.
Andre Previn is principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In addition to fulfilling his responsibilities with these prestigious orchestras, Mr. Previn appears regularly with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras. He also performs as pianist with the newly re-established Los Angeles Philharmonic Chamber Music Society.
An exceptionally versatile artist, Mr. Previn has distinguished himself as conductor, composer, pianist, recording artist, television personality, and author. Born in Berlin in 1929, Andre Previn emigrated with his family to California shortly before World War II. Studying conducting with Pierre Monteux and composition withjoscph Achron and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedcsco, he began his professional music career by working in Hollywood film studios as a conductor, arranger, and composer, eventually winning a total of four Academy Awards. He also found early success as a professional jazz pianist.
In 1960 Mr. Previn began to concentrate all his efforts on a symphonic conducting career. His musical and technical strengths were soon recognized, and his rise to the front rank of major conductors became one of the most impressive success stories in the world of music. In a period of twenty years, Mr. Previn received acclaim as music director of three major orchestras -the Houston Symphony (1967-69), the London Symphony (1968-79), and the Pittsburgh Symphony (1976-1985). While in Pittsburgh he was nominated for two Emmy Awards for the PBS television series "Previn and the Pittsburgh."
Andre Previn's current affiliation with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra began in June 1985 with the first annual Andre Previn Music Festival on London's South Bank. His work with the orchestra includes Royal Festival Hall engagements, extensive touring, and recordings in a wide variety of repertoire.
His extensive discography, already numbering over 150 recordings with orchestras including the London Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, and The Philadelphia Orchestra, is being considerably augmented by recordings with the Royal Philhar?monic Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Mr. Previn's projects with the Royal Philharmonic include the recording Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony, a com?plete Elgar cycle, Beethoven piano concertos with Emanuel Ax, and Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.
His many works as a composer include the musicals Coco and The Good Companions, a piano concerto and two suites of preludes commissioned and performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy, a song cycle for mezzo-soprano Dame Janet Baker, and the highly acclaimed music drama Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, made in collaboration with playwright Tom Stoppard.
The Royal Philharmonic has appeared four times in Ann Arbor prior to this evening's concert: in 1950 with Sir Thomas Beecham, in 1968 with Vaclav Neumann, in 1972 with Rudolf Kempe, and in 1985 with Sir Yehudi Menuhin. Mr. Previn's previous Ann Arbor apperances include two concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1973 and 1974 and one with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1981.
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Under the patronage of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
the Queen Mother
Andre Previn, Principal Conductor Yehudi Menuhin, President and Associate Conductor
First Violins Barry Griffiths
Leader Richard Layton
Associate Leader Jeremy Painter Julian Cummings Kevin Duffy Charles Nolan Kenneth Lawrence Graham Pyatt Clive Dobbins Andrew Klee Robert Issell Charles Beldom Robert Heard Brian Thomas Carolyn Franks Bridget Wallace
Second Violins Peter Cosham Ian Rhodes Michael Dolan Cyril Newton Philip Yeeles Christopher Lydon Gil White Peter Nutting Charles Barnes David Herd Stephen Merson Bernard Duffy Mary Bird Stephen Kear
Andrew Williams David Newland Mary Samuel Robin Del Mar Andrew Sippings Stephen Broom Peter Sermon Donald Thompson Harry Jones Martin Chivers Martin Humbey Justin Ward
Francois Rive Peter Dixon Nigel Pinkett Peter Vel Eldon Fox Laurence Cromwell Ian Sharp William Heggart John Hatt Mary McLeod Stephen Milne Amanda Goodall
Double Basses Jack McCormack Roy Benson Peter Hetherington Gareth Wood Neil Watson Albert Dennis John Holt Anthony Halligan
Robert Winn Julian Coward
Piccolo Patricia Morris
Oboes Leila Ward Susan Smythe
Cor anglais Geoffrey Browne
Prudence Whittaker
Keith Pearson
ClarinetSaxophone Richard Addison
Michael Chapman Alan Hammond Richard Skinner
Contrabassoon Dominic Weir
Jeffrey Bryant John Bimson Robert Mclntosh Nigel Black James Warburton
Raymond Simmons Paul Ringham Gerald Ruddock Joseph Atkins David Archer
Trombones Derek James John Sibley Harry Spain
Patrick Harrild
Timpani Michael Baker
Percussion Nicholas Cole Stephen Quigley Stephen Webberley Martin Owens
Keyboard Vivian Troon
Thelma Owen Angela Moore
Management Ian Maclay Heather Newill John Charles Terence Leahy Edward Lee Ronald Lee
Coming Concerts
Norwegian Chamber OrchestraIona Brown .............. Thurs. Oct. 8
Bach: "Double" Violin Concerto in D minor; Arne Nordheim:
Rendezvous for Strings; Mendelssohn: String Symphony No. 10;
Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat, K. 364
Chinese Children's Palace of Hangzhou ..................... Fri. Oct. 9
Leningrad State Symphony of the U.S.S.R................. Sun. Oct. 11
Alexander Dmitriev, Conductor; Pavel Kogan, Violinist
Weber: Overture to "Euryanthe"; Beethoven: Violin Concerto;
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 Erick Hawkins Dance Company ..................... Fri., Sat. Oct. 16, 17
Friday -Summer Clouds People (music, Michio Mamiya);
Ahab (music, Ross Finney); Heyoka (music, Finney)
Saturday -Joshua Tree (music, Finney); Plains Daybreak (music, Hovhaness); Today, With Dragon (music, Gan-ru Ge) Zurich Chamber OrchestraEdmond de Stoutz ............ Sun. Oct. 18
Bach: "Brandenburg" Concerto No. 3; Frank Martin: "Polyptyque"
for violin and two string orchestras; Haydn: Symphony No. 43
The Warsaw Ballet, "Giselle" .............................. Wed. Oct. 28
Western Opera Theater, "Don Pasquale" .................. Thurs. Oct. 29
Oslo Philharmonic OrchestraMariss Jansons...............Sun. Nov. 8
Berlioz: "Roman Carnival" Overture; Tchaikovsky: Fantasy-Overture,
"Romeo and Juliet"; Geirr Tviett: "Folk Tunes of Hardanger";
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 Vienna String Trio ........................................ Wed. Nov. 11
Haydn: Trio, Op. 53; Dohnanyi: Serenade, Op. 10; Beethoven: Trio,
Op. 9, No. 1
Elena Obraztsova, Mezzo-soprano ............................ Fri. Nov. 20
Vienna Choir Boys ......................................... Sun. Nov. 22
Johann Schenk: Comic Operetta, "Dorfbarbier" (Cure for Quacks);
and music of Buxtehude, Verdi, Schubert, Kodaly, and Johann
Handel's "Messiah'VDoNALD Bryant, Conductor ............ Fri.-Sun. Dec. 4-6
The Swingle Singers ....................................... Thurs. Dec. 10
Pittsburgh Ballet, Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" ........ Fri.-Sun. Dec. 11-13
Horacio Gutierrez, Pianist ................................... Wed. Jan. 13
Kodo (Japanese "taiko" drummers) ...............................Fri. Jan. 15
Empire Brass Quintet ....................................... Mon. Jan. 25
Empire Brass & Douglas Major, Organist .................... Tues. Jan. 26
New York City Opera National Company ................ Thurs. Feb. 4
Rossini's "The Barber of Seville"
Camerata Musica ............................................Mon. Feb. 8
Lynn Harrell, Cellist; Igor Kipnis, Harpsichordist .............. Sun. Feb. 14
All-Bach: Sonatas, Nos. 1, 2, and 3; Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue
(harpsichord alone); Suite No. 3 (cello alone)
Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company ..................... Mon. Feb. 29
English Chamber OrchestraJeffrey Tate................... Mon. Mar. 7
Frank Peter Zimmermann, Violinist
Mozart: "Marriage of Figaro" Overture; Mozart: Violin Concerto in
A major, K. 216; Gordon Jacob: Mini-Concerto for Clarinet; Haydn:
Symphony No. 101 ("Clock")
Hubbard Street Dance Company .................. Sat., Sun. Mar. 12, 13
Belgrade State Folk Ensemble ............................. Sun. Mar. 13
Christopher Parkening, Guitarist ..............................Fri. Mar. 18
Music of Bach, Mozart, Granados, Albeniz, Torroba, Sanz, Villa-Lobos, Rodrigo, and Falla
Faculty Artists Concert (free admission) .................... Sun. Mar. 20
Andre Watts, Pianist ...........................................Sat. Apr. 2
All-Schubert: Moments musicaux; Sonata in G, D. 894; "Wanderer" Fantasy
Write or call for free brochure with all details and ticket information.
Burton Memorial Tower, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1270 Telephone: (313) 764-2538

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