Young Artists and Russian Masters

Saturday, December 8, 2001 - 8:00 p.m.
Jim Rouse Theatre

Pieces

Franz Joseph Haydn - Cello Concerto in C, Hob VIIb/1
Sergei Prokofiev - Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio Espagnol
Program Notes

NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)

CAPRICCIO ESPAGNOL, Op. 34

Composed: 1887
Premiered: St. Petersburg, Russia, 1887

In 1863, Midshipman Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov bought a couple of books of Spanish folksongs when his ship, the Almaz, visited Cadiz. Over twenty years later, a handful of songs from those books would become the Capriccio Espagnol.

The Capriccio was originally conceived as a violin concerto, but pressure to get the piece finished and a desire to concentrate on orchestral color led to the slightly less ambitious work we know now. With its daunting demands on soloists in every section of the orchestra, it would not be unreasonable to call the work the first “concerto for orchestra.” With typical modesty, the composer himself called it “a brilliant composition for the orchestra.”

The opening Alborada (“Dawn”) shows the Spanish morning to be a very lively affair, with prominent appearances by solo violin and clarinet. The second movement features the horns and the low strings before handing off to woodwind solos. The Alborada reappears in a new key; interestingly, the composer left a note detailing how the conductor can overcome miscalculations in the orchestral balance here. The Scene and Gypsy Song is actually a chain of cadenzas for brass, violin, woodwind and harp: listen for the once-infamous passage in which the strings are instructed to be strummed “quasi guitarra.” An (unnamed) triple-meter dance leads to the rousing Fandango and the final, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink statement of the Alborada.

Neither the actual folksongs used in the work nor the books they were in have ever been identified; perhaps Rimsky’s talent for pastiche equaled his orchestration.

Pablo Sarasate - Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20

About the Concert

Featuring the winners of the 2002 Young Artist Competition.

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