Friday, August 3, 2012

Montage # 65 - Rivers/Rivières

As of September 7, 2012, this montage will no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address / A compter du 7 septembre 2012, ce montage ne sera plus disponible en baladodiffusion Pod-O-Matic. Il peut être téléchargé ou entendu au site Internet Archive à l'adresse suivante:

pcast065 Playlist

English Commentary – le commentaire français suit

On this blog over the last two summers, we have visited our fair share of places - countries and cities - but the next few posts will take us into many places that have something in common: islands, the beach, the Sea and this week rivers.

Rivers of the New World

I have scheduled four rivers in our North-American tour. The Suwannee River is a major American river in southern Georgia and northern Florida. It is a wild blackwater river, about 246 miles (396 km) long. This river is the subject of the Stephen Foster song "Old Folks at Home," in which he calls it the Swanee River (because Foster had misspelled the name). Foster never saw the river he made world famous. George Gershwin's song, with lyrics by Irving Ceasar,and made popular by Al Jolson, is also spelled "Swanee," and boasts that "the folks up North will see me no more when I get to that Swanee shore."  The Gershwin song opens our podcast.

French explorers Louis Joliette and Father Jacques Marquette were the first Europeans to travel the Mississippi riverthe chief river of the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, it rises in northern Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for 2,530 miles (4,070 km) to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 31 US states and 2 Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains. The river is the inspiration for a number of musical works, from Creedence Clearwater Revival's Proud Mary to Jerome Kern's watershed musical, Show-Boat. The most famous song from this musical is - no doubt - "Ol' Man River"  The song expresses the African American hardship and struggles of the time with the endless, uncaring flow of the Mississippi River. In our montage, it is sung by the Jamaican-born British operatic bass.Sir Willard White.

Another composer that set the Mississippi to music is Ferde Grofé, however we will use him to accompany us to the Great Lakes region and the Niagara RiverThe Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario (on the west) and New York State. Niagara-on-the-Lake and its vineyards are located in Southern Ontario where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario and is well-frequented by Eastern-Canadian wine aficionados. But, let's not kid ourselves, there is an even bigger attraction: he river, which is occasionally described as a strait, is about 56 kilometres (35 mi) long and includes Niagara Falls in its course. Grofé captures the power of the falls in his 1963 Niagara Suite, with a section included in the montage and the entire suite included here:

Flowing from the Eastern edge of Lake Ontario is the Saint-Lawrence River, which borders the US and Canada for a short stretch before enteriung Canadian soil completely just west of Montreal. Stretching 1,197 km (743.8 mi) from the outflow of Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean, the river is often described in three parts: the river itself, the estuary - that is the portion of the river flowing East from Québec City upto Rivière-du-Loup where the river starts to widen and, finally, the Gulf flowing from there to the tip of the Gaspé peninsula and into the ocean. Composer and pianist André Gagnon comes from the Estuary region (a small town in the Kamouraska townships), and his 1975 lyric ode for piano and orchestra Le Saint-Laurent is also divided in three sections that portray the sections of the river.

Back to the US, and the Hudson River. The 315-mile (507 km) river officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York, flowing southward past the state capital at Albany and then eventually forms the boundary between New York City and the U.S. state of New Jersey at its mouth before emptying into Upper New York Bay. The Hudson served as a surrogate to the Seine while Gershwin wrote An American In Paris, but I rather chose the fine band piece by Herbert L. Clarke, Sounds From the Hudson.

Rivers of the Old World

The longest river in the World, and probably the oldest documented river of the Antiquity, the Nile is 6,650 km (4,130 miles) long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt. Giuseppe Verdi sets part of his great opera Aida at the foot of the nile, which is where we will meet up with Jon Vickers & Leontyne Price.

With a total length of 346 km (215 mi), the River Thames  is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford, Reading, Henley-on-Thames, Windsor, Kingston upon Thames and Richmond. The Water Music composed by George Frideric Handel premiered on 17 July 1717, when King George I requested a concert on the River Thames. The concert was performed for King George I on his barge and he is said to have enjoyed it so much that he ordered the 50 exhausted musicians to play the suites three times on the trip. The montage features some selections from the second of these suites as performed by the New-York Philharmonic under Pierre Boulez. Here is the entire suite by Boulez with the Hague Philharmonic Orchestra:

At 430 km long, the Vltava (better known under its Germanname, die Moldau) is the longest river in the Czech Republic, running north from its source near the Austrian Border in Šumava through Český Krumlov, České Budějovice, and Prague, merging with the Elbe at Mělník. Vltava happens to be one (and the mpost well-known) of the six symphonic poems composed between 1874 and 1879 by Bedřich Smetana that form Má vlast (traditionally translated as "My Country", though more strictly meaning "homeland"). I have more about Ma Vlast in a past PTB post.

The Rhine and the Danube formed most of the northern inland frontier of the Western Roman Empire. The Rhine flows from Grisons in the eastern Swiss Alps to the North Sea coast in the Netherlands and is the twelfth longest river in Europe, at about 1,233 km (766 mi). The Rhine has inspired its fair share of legend (thereès those four little operas by Wagner that revolve around some Gold in the river, isn't there?) and today's selection, from Schumann's third symphony. The complete symphony is found embedded in today's French commentary.

As for the Danube, wel, you know...

I think you will love this music too!

Commentaire français

Pour les prochains billets de la Grande Evasion, nous allons nous déplacer rapidement d'un endroit à l'autre, afin de visiter des emplacements réels ou imaginaires qui ont un fil en commun - des îles, la plage, la mer et cette semaine les rivières.

Des rivières du Nouveau-Monde

Notre itinéraire prévoit quatre arrêts en Amérique du Nord, à commencer par les états du Sud-Est de la Georgie et de la Floride et la rivière Suwannee, qui compte près de 400 km de long. La rivière dans un orthoigraphe différent (Swanee) a été immortalisée entre autre, par Stephen Foster s("Old Folks at Home") et par George Gershwin's dans un succès des années '20 du chanteur AL Jolson - notre choix pour le montage.

A ;la petite école, on nous a enseigné les exploits de Louis Joliette et du Père Jacques Marquette parcourant en canot le grand Mississippi. En fait, le Mississippi est sans doute (avec le fleuve Saint-Laurent) l'un des plus grands systèmes riverains du Continent, traversant du Nord au Sud, de la frontière Manitobaine jusqu'au Golfe du Mexique.

Show-Boat du compositeur Américain Jerome Kern est probablement trop léger pour se quallifier comme opéra, mais est trop ambitieux pour n'être considéré que comme une comédie musicale. J'ai choisi le passage le plus célèbre ("Ol' Man River") pour le montage, mais vous suggère ce "scénario pour orchestre" commandé par Artur Rodzinski et son orchestre de Cleveland:

Ferde Grofé est un autre compositeur qui a trouvé son inspiration au sein du grand Mississippi. Toutefois, je vous propose plutôt une autre de ses oeuvres, sa suite de 1963 inspirée de la rivière Niagara, qui joint les lacs Erié et Ontario d'une façon des plus spectaculaires - générant les magnifiques chutes du même nom. La sélection montée aujourd'hui relate la puissance de ces chutes - la suite intégrale est intégrée au commentaire anglais ci-haut.

Le lac Ontario et l'océan Atktantique soint joints par le fleuve Saint-Laurent, objet des voyages d'exploration de Jacques Cartier et conduit vital pour la Nouvelle-France. A cette même petite école, on nous a appris que le fleuve a trois parties: le fleuve lui-même entre le lac Ontario et la ville de Québec, l'Estuaire entre Québec et Rivière du Loup (d'ailleurs le mot Québec est un terme autochtone qui signifie là où le fleuve rétrécit) et le Golfe qui s'ouvre vers l'Atlantique, passant Anticosti et la Gaspérie. L'ode lyrique pour piano et orchestre Le Saint-Laurent du pianiste-compositeur André Gagnon est, lui-aussi, assorti de trois sections distinctes "Jaillissement", "Devant Charlevoix" et "Vers la Mer" qui sont une réflection de cette vileille leôn de géographie.

Finalement, il y a le fleuve Hudson, qui parcourt 507 km pour, depuis la frontière entre le Canada et l'État de New-York, longe l'île de Manhattan, séparant la ville de New-York et le New Jersey. Ce cours d'eau est représent. dans notre montage par la valse brillante composée par le canadien Herbert L. Clarke, Sounds From the Hudson pour cornet et harmonie de concert..

Les rivières d'Outre-Mer

Commençons par le fleuve le plus long au monde, le Nil, 6,650 km serpentant l'Afrique jusqu'en Egypte, où il est évoqué dans le grand opéra de Verdi, Aida.

La Tamise (en anglais, River Thames) est le plus long cours d'eau d'Angleterre, et (comme la Seine) fait partie du paysage Londonnien. Les trois suites de Water Music composées par George Frideric Handel furent une commande du Roi George Ier d'Angleterre pour, justement, une performance publique le long de cette rivière Le montage présente quelques extraits de la deuxième suite par Boulez et la Philharmioniqe de New-York (Boulez joue la suite en entier dans mon commentaire anglais).

La Vltava (en allemand, die Moldau) coule en république Tchèque et est, bien sûr, le mouvement le plus connu des six quiu forment la collection de poèmes symphomniques de Bedřich Smetana, Má vlast (Ma Patrie). Ma Vlast fut le sujet d'un Quinze que j'en psnse l'an dernier..

Le Rhin et le Danube représentaient la frontière nord de l'Empire Romain d'Occident, séparant cet empire de la Germanie antique. D'une longueur de 1,233 km, le Rhis a sa part d'illustrations musicales, allant de la Tétralogie de Wagner jusqu'à la symphonie Rhénnane de Schumann. Voici une prestation intégrale de cette symphonie, complémentatnt l'extrait Klemperer de notre montage:

Et tant qu'au Danumbe, ça se passe d'introduction.

Bonne .coute!

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