MARTINŮ La Revue De Cuisine (15’)
DVOŘÁK Slavonic Dances Nos. 1 and 2 (for piano four hands) (10’)
WEILL Nanna’s Lied; Youkali; Je ne t’aime pas (8’)
DE FALLA Pantomime and Ritual Fire Dance from ‘El Amore Brujo’ (9’)
FRANÇAIX Dixtuor for string quintet and wind quintet (18’)
SAINT-SAËNS Septet for trumpet, string quintet and piano (18’)
This concert will put a song in your heart and a dance in your step! International star trumpet player Tine Thing Helseth joins Ensemble 360 to launch Sheffield Chamber Music Festival 2023 in style, with the rhythms of charleston and tango from Martinů, de Falla’s instantly recognisable Fire Dance, and more.
Festival Curator Kathryn Stott joins the party, playing Dvořák’s sumptuous Slavonic dances for piano four hands with Ensemble 360’s Tim Horton, and the evening comes to a rollicking end as Ensemble 360 are joined by both Tine and Kathy for a tour de force from Saint-Saëns.
Celebrate the start of the Festival with us and enjoy a post-concert complimentary glass of wine or soft drink in the Crucible Foyer (served to all ticket-holders).
MARTINŮ Bohuslav, La Revue De Cuisine
Charleston. Poco a poco allegro
Finale. Tempo di marcia
Martinů’s jazz ballet La Revue de Cuisine was composed in 1927 for an ensemble of six instruments: clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, cello and piano. Based on a deliciously absurd scenario by Jarmila Kröschlová, it tells the story of the precarious love life of some kitchen utensils: The marriage of the Pot and the Lid is in danger of being broken up by the smooth-talking Twirling Stick. The pot succumbs to his charms, while the Dishcloth makes eyes at Lid but is challenged to a duel by the Broom. Eventually the Pot and the Lid kiss and make up while the Twirling Stick goes off with the Dishcloth. The premiere of the ballet in Prague (1927) was given under the title of The Temptation of the Saintly Cooking Pot and subsequently Martinů derived a four-movement suite from his score, gave it a new title and achieved his first international success: after a performance given in Paris on 5 January 1930 at a concert put on by the great French pianist Alfred Cortot, the publisher Alphonse Leduc immediately signed up Martinů and quickly published the score and parts.
The first movement begins with a jaunty trumpet fanfare, followed by a lop-sided piano vamp and the gradual entrance of the rest of the ensemble for a high-spirited movement that reaches a climax with the return of the opening fanfare. The second movement is a moody Tango, and the third an entertaining Charleston. For the finale, Martinů recalls the opening fanfare (this time on the bassoon) before launching into a joyous March that avoids rhythmic symmetry and has some syncopations that recall Martinů’s interest in jazz. In fact, throughout this delightful work the sound of the small ensemble chosen by Martinů intentionally reflects the sound of dance bands from the time.
Nigel Simeone © 2011
DVOŘÁK Antonín, Slavonic Dances Op.46, Nos.1 & 2
Allegretto scherzando (dumka)
It was Brahms who recommended his publisher Simrock to take on the Bohemian composer Antonín Dvořák, then in his thirties but largely unknown outside Prague. After the success of the Moravian Duets in 1878, Simrock immediately asked Dvořák for a set of Czech dances for piano four-hands as companion pieces to Brahms’s Hungarian Dances. Dvořák was delighted at the prospect and wrote them quickly between 18 March and 7 May 1878, producing a set of very stylised pieces drawing on the forms and characteristics of Czech folk dances. The Slavonic Dances immediately enjoyed huge success, and in 1886 Dvořák produced a second set. The first dance is a furious Presto in the style of a furiant (very fast, with syncopations and cross-rhythms). The second is the only one of the set for which the composer took inspiration from beyond Czech lands: its origins were a Ukrainian Dumka, a wistful lament which is intercut with livelier episodes.
© Nigel Simeone
WEILL Kurt, Nanna’s Lied; Youkali; Je ne t’aime pas
Nannas Lied (1939)
Je ne t’aime pas [I don’t love you] (1934) (arr. for trumpet and piano)
After Kurt Weill heard Hanns Eisler’s 1936 setting of Bertolt Brecht’s Nannas Lied he decided that he wanted to make a version of his own, and just before Christmas 1939, he produced this song, dedicating it to the singer Lotte Lenya. Youkali, subtitled a ‘Tango-habanera’ was originally an instrumental Tango for Weill’s ill-fated French musical Marie Galante which opened in Paris on 22 December 1934. In 1946 a version for voice and piano was published as Youkali. Je ne t’aime pas was a song for voice and piano, on a text by Maurice Magre, also composed in 1934 during Weill’s time in France. As a prominent Jewish composer – renowned for The Threepenny Opera and The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny – Weill was forced to flee Nazi Germany in 1933 and eventually settled in New York in September 1935 where he was able to rebuild his career with successful Broadway works such as Lady in the Dark, One Touch of Venus, Street Scene and Lost in the Stars.
© Nigel Simeone
DE FALLA Manuel, Pantomime and Ritual Fire Dance from ‘El Amore Brujo’
El amor brujo, known in English as Love, the Magician began as gitaneria (danced entertainment) in 1915. In due course, Falla expanded the orchestration and made some other changes before the definitive version of the ballet was given for the first time on 22 May 1925, at the Théâtre du Trianon-Lyrique in Paris, conducted by the composer. Four years before then, Falla’s own piano arrangement of the Ritual Fire Dance was published in London and it immediately became a very popular recital piece with pianists including Arthur Rubinstein and Myra Hess. The Pantomime that precedes it here begins with some bold splashes of Andalusian colour before turning to a lilting theme in 7/8 time. In the ballet, the Ritual Fire Dance is the moment when the gypsy Candela seeks to cast out the malign ghost of her dead husband. During this dance, which grows from sinister beginnings to a ferocious climax, the ghost is drawn into the flames and vanishes forever. Falla made the present arrangement of the Pantomime and Ritual Fire Dance for piano and string quintet in 1926.
© Nigel Simeone
FRANÇAIX Jean, Dixtuor
Larghetto tranquillo – Allegro
Jean Françaix came from a musical family and took up composing at the age of six. He became a favourite pupil of Nadia Boulanger, and his youthful gifts were also recognised by Ravel. During the 1930s, his output included chamber music, orchestral pieces, ballets, the opera Le diable boiteux and an oratorio, L’Apocalypse selon Saint Jean. After World War Two, Françaix continued to produce a stream of new works, including several film scores. His style remained neo-classical, usually marked by a lightness of touch and wit.
The Dixtuor, for string quintet and wind quintet, is one of his last major works, the manuscript dated at the end 24 October 1986. It was a commission for the Cologne-based Linos Ensemble which gave the premiere in 1987. The Dixtuor opens with a long, gentle introduction which gives way to a vigorous Allegro. The lyrical Andante opens with a melody shared by oboe and clarinet (over strings) before the rest of the ensemble join gradually. Marked Scherzando, the third movement makes virtuoso demands on the players, but it is music of genuine charm, with a slow (and endearingly odd) central Trio section. The finale is a brisk Allegro.
© Nigel Simeone
SAINT-SAËNS Camille, Septet Op.65
Préambule. Allegro moderato
Menuet. Tempo di minuetto moderato
Gavotte et Final. Allegro non troppo – Più allegro
Saint-Saëns wrote his Septet for the chamber music society ‘La Trompette’ and dedicated the work to its founder, Émile Lemoine. La Trompette gave the first performance of the ‘Préambule’ at one of its soirées in the rue de Grenelle in January 1880 and the complete work was given its premiere on in December 1880, with Saint-Saëns at the piano.
The dedicatee, Lemoine, noted down the origins of the piece on Saint-Saëns’s autograph manuscript: ‘For a long time, I’d been pestering my friend Saint-Saëns to compose something for our evenings at La Trompette, a serious work which included a trumpet mixed with the string instruments and piano which we normally had. At first he joked about this bizarre combination of instruments, saying that he would first write something for guitar and 13 trombones. In 1879 he gave me a piece for trumpet, piano, string quartet and double bass entitled Préambule which was played on 6 January 1880. It no doubt pleased Saint-Saëns because he told me afterwards that “you will have your complete piece and the Préambule will be the first movement”. He kept his word, and the Septet was played for the first time on 28 December 1880.’
The four movements give a clear indication of Saint-Saëns’s classical leanings and his fondness for ancient dance forms, but what gives the work its delightful individuality is the unusual mixture of instruments combined with particularly fertile melodic invention.
© Nigel Simeone