Friday, August 19, 2016

Concertinos

No. 228 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series series series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast228



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This week’s Blog and Podcast assembles “short” concertante works. As you would expect, “short:” is a subjective term – concertos can be “large” works – think of Brahms’ second piano concerto, or even Busoni’s monumental piano concerto at one end of the spectrum, and some of the hundreds of concerti by Antonio Vivaldi which last anywhere between 9 and 12 minutes at the other.

Nobody would ever think of calling any of Vivaldi’s gems a “short” work… The term “concertino” is proposed as a “diminutive” term and some of the works programmed this week – works by Québec’s André Mathieu and Germany’s Ferdinand David are about as long as those cute Vivaldi concerti. That doesn’t mean they don’t pack a mean punch!

Carl Maria von Weber composed two concerti for clarinet, and one concertino for clarinet and orchestra. This work is a “typical” Konzertstück – literally concert piece –laid out in a single continuous movement with distinct sections (fast-slow-fast) we have come to associate with a concerto.

Richard StraussDuett-Concertino, his last completed composition, is one of those works from his final years in which he sets aside the large orchestras and big Romantic gestures that served him so well in his great tone poems in favor of a more restrained, almost neo-classical style and a more transparent orchestral sound. Unlike Weber’s “short and sweet” concertino, this genial work in three movements has all the trappings of a double concerto (obvious reference to Brahms) so it is only diminutive in scale, not in length. Strauss told conductor Clemens Krauss that the work had a connection with Hans Christian Andersen's story The Swineherd, in which a prince (here, the bassoon) puts himself into position to woo a princess (the clarinet) by taking the job of a swineherd at her father's palace. But he also told his bassoonist friend Burghauser of a different scenario in which a dancing princess (the clarinet) is alarmed by the strange cavorting of a bear (the bassoon); when she finally dances with the bear, it is transformed into a prince.

Interplay was the second ballet that Jerome Robbins choreographed, after his huge success with Fancy Free. It debuted in 1945 for Billy Rose's Concert Varieties at the Ziegfeld Theater and entered the New York City Ballet repertory in 1952. Using the interplay of classical and vernacular choreography, Robbins experimented with choreographic patterns and the interactions of dancers in various formations. Originally titled American Concertette, Morton Gould's score, full of humor and jazzy orchestration, revels in the swingtime rhythms of the 1940s. At the center of Interplay is a bluesy pas de deux that stands in bold relief to the joyfully competitive spirit of the ballet.

To close the montage I programmed Saint-Saëns’s violin concerto no. 1, like Weber’s concedrtino, a short and sweet piece in one continuous movement with three distinct sections.


I think you will love this music too!