Maurice Ravel Introduction and Allegro | Jean Francaix Wind Quartet No. 1 | Arturo Marquez Danza de Mediodia | Jacques Ibert Trio for Violin, Cello and Harp | Astor Piazzolla Libertango
Running Time: Approximately 60 minutes
Introduction and Allegro (1905) - Maurice Ravel (1875-1927)
Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro (1905) boasts a visionary instrumentation for harp, flute, clarinet, and string quartet and remarkably no-one seems to have written anything for this combination of instruments since.
The firm of Pleyel had commissioned a work from Debussy (Danses Sacree et profane, 1904) to increase the sales of the newly invented chromatic harp. The Erard Piano Company, countered this by requesting a work from Ravel for the customary double-action harp. The work received its first performance on February 22, 1907, in Paris by the Cercle Musical, a group devoted to chamber music. Despite Ravel' omitting this piece from his catalogue, it has become one of the most significant and highly influential works for harp of the 20th Century.
Around the same time that this work was composed, the art world was rapidly changing. Artistic sentiments of the 19th Century were becoming obsolete and outdated, due to the social and political unrest that unfolded across Europe and Russia. Whilst some composers mirrored the human condition and social division and others looked to foreign cultures for inspiration. Like Debussy, Ravel was fascinated with music from the orient, including gamelan and gyspsy music.
Ravel’s natural affinity for orchestration and deep understanding of the idiomatic and sonorous qualities of each instrument is illuminated throughout this incredible work, which often impresses on the listener as if it was performed by an entire orchestra, rather than just seven people.
Quartet for Winds (1933) - Jean Francaix (1912-1997)
I. Allegro II. Andante II. Allegro Molto IV. Allegro Vivo
Jean Francaix was a neoclassical composer, pianist, and orchestrator, reknown for his prolific output and luminous style. Born to French music teachers, he started composing at the age of 10 and went on to become a prodigé of Nadia Boulanger at the Paris Conservatoire.
The immediate wit and ingenuity of Francaix’s music is infectious and is often celebrated for its very conversational style; featuring quite complex but pleasing interplay. Whilst he was influenced by composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, and Francis Poulenc, he craftfully integrated the knowledge he gained from other composers to establish his very own recognisable and distinct aesthetic.
At the age of 21, Francaix wrote his Wind Quartet for flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon for teaching faculty at Le Mans Conservatoire, where his father was the director.
At the age of 21 Francaix wrote his Quartet for flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon for teaching faculty at Le Mans Conservatoire, where his father was the director. At this time, it was unusual for composers to omit the use of French Horn from the widely known wind quintet formation. It is clear that Francaix wanted to achieve a great deal of levity in this work that could be more easily achieved without the horn. The work presents itself in a typical classical symphonic structure; a fast first movement, slow second movement, a dance like third movement (scherzo) ending with a quick finale.
Trio for Violin, Cello and Harp (1944) - Jacques Ibert (1890-1962)
I. Allegro tranquillo II. Andante sostenuto III. Scherzando con moto
Ibert’s musical studies were interrupted by World War I, in which he served as a Naval officer. On resuming his studies, he won the Conservatoire's top prize, the Prix de Rome which gave him the opportunity to study in Rome. Upon returning to France in 1940 however, life took a turn and his music was banned by the Vichy Government and Ibert was forced to retreat to Switzerland.
In the inter-war years, Vichy was the summer capital of music. When the Armistice was signed in 1940, the freedom it had enjoyed until then was crushed, although musical life did continue and arguably flourished during the Second World War. However, from the signing of the Armistice and division of France, the scheme restricted the composers it employed to those who upheld the conservative, anti-modernist and pro-Catholic sentiments of the regime of which the works of Ibert did not satisfy.
In August 1944, he was readmitted to the musical life of the country when General de Gaulle recalled him to Paris. This delightful Trio for violin, cello and harp was written in the same year as his return to Paris, and quite aptly, exudes a sprightly and joyous character. By the year 1955 Ibert was appointed administrator of the Réunion des Théâtres Lyriques Nationaux, which ran both the Paris Opera and the Opéra-Comique.
Danza de Mediodia (2017) - Arturo Marquez (1950-)
Arturo Marquez was exposed to many different musical styles in his childhood. His father was a mariachi musician and his paternal grandfather was a Mexican folk musician in the northern states of Sonora and Chihuaua in Mexico. Danza de Mediodia translates as “Noon dance” and it bears Marquez’s trademarks of dance, life, and love. This wind
quintet is relatively unknown as Marquez has only recently become a household name amongst Australian orchestras; most notably for his orchestral work Danzon No. 2. Whilst this composition is not geographically French, we felt that it’s very lively and uplifting character embodies the essence of this programme’s Joie de Vivre.
November 30, 7pm
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 210-218 Richardson St, Victoria.
Parking: There are parking spaces available around the church, which is also a 5 minute walk from the 1 and 96 tram lines.
Tickets: Adult $35/Concession $20/Under 18 Free. Bookings can be made online or purchased can at the door (cash only).
All audience members are invited to join the players post-performance for a drink and an opportunity to meet the musicians.