Spring 2013

Conductor Mark Shapiro
with Guest Artist Willem Blois

Program

Masques et Bergamasques Suite, Op. 12 ~ G. Fauré 
I. Ouverture 
II. Menuet 
III. Gavotte 
IV. Pastorale 

Piano Concerto in G Major ~ M. Ravel 
I. Allegramente 
II. Adagio Assai 
III. Presto 
Willem Blois, Piano 

Symphony in D Minor ~ C. Franck 
I. Lento, Allegro non troppo 
II. Allegretto 
III. Allegro non troppo 

 

Masques et Bergamasques Suite, Op. 12

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

Fauré was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works are his Pavane, Requiem, nocturnes for piano and the songs "Après un rêve" and "Clair de lune". Although his best-known and most accessible compositions are generally his earlier ones, Fauré composed many of his greatest works in his later years, in a harmonically and melodically much more complex style. 

Fauré's music has been described as linking the end of Romanticism with the modernism of the second quarter of the 20th century. When he was born, Chopin was still composing, and by the time of Fauré's death, jazz and the atonal music of the Second Viennese School were being heard. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, which describes him as the most advanced composer of his generation in France, notes that his harmonic and melodic innovations influenced the teaching of harmony for later generations. During the last twenty years of his life, he suffered from increasing deafness. In contrast with the charm of his earlier music, his works from this period are sometimes elusive and withdrawn in character, and at other times turbulent and impassioned. 

Fauré's best-known orchestral works are the suites Masques et bergamasques (based on music for a dramatic entertainment, or divertissement comique), which he orchestrated himself, Dolly, orchestrated by Henri Rabaud, and Pelléas et Mélisande drawing on incidental music for Maeterlinck's play; the stage version was orchestrated by Koechlin, but Fauré himself reworked the orchestration for the published suite. 

Piano Concerto in G Major

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects. Along with Claude Debussy, he was one of the most prominent figures associated with Impressionist music. Much of his piano music, chamber music, vocal music and orchestral music has entered the standard concert repertoire.

Ravel's piano compositions demand considerable virtuosity from the performer, and his orchestral music, including Daphnis et Chloé and his arrangement of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, use a variety of sound and instrumentation.

Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major was composed between 1929 and 1931. The concerto is in three movements and is heavily influenced by jazz, which Ravel had encountered on a concert tour of the United States.

Symphony in D minor

César Franck (1822-1890)

César Franck was a composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher who worked in Paris during his adult life. He was born at Liège, in what is now Belgium (though at the time of his birth it was under the Netherlands' control). In that city he gave his first concerts in 1834. He studied privately in Paris from 1835, where his teachers included Anton Reicha. After a brief return to Belgium, and a disastrous reception to an early oratorio Ruth, he moved to Paris, where he married and embarked on a career as teacher and organist. He gained a reputation as a formidable improviser, and travelled widely in France to demonstrate new instruments built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

In 1858 he became organist at Sainte-Clotilde, a position he retained for the rest of his life. He became professor at the Paris Conservatoire in 1872; he took French nationality, a requirement of the appointment. After acquiring the professorship Franck wrote several pieces that have entered the standard classical repertoire, including symphonic, chamber, and keyboard works.

The Symphony in D minor is his most famous orchestral work and the only symphony written by Franck. After two years of work, the symphony was completed 22 August 1888. It was premiered at the Paris Conservatory on 17 February 1889 under the direction of Jules Garcin. Franck dedicated it to his pupil Henri Duparc.

Many of Franck's works employ "cyclic form", a method of achieving unity among several movements in which all of the principal themes of the work are generated from a germinal motif. The main melodic subjects, thus interrelated, are then recapitulated in the final movement. Franck's use of "cyclic form" is best illustrated by his Symphony in D minor.

His music is often contrapuntally complex, using a harmonic language that is prototypically late Romantic, showing a great deal of influence from Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner. In his compositions, Franck showed a talent and a penchant for frequent, graceful modulations of key. Franck's modulatory style and his idiomatic method of inflecting melodic phrases are among his most recognizable traits.

7:30 pm, Faith Tabernacle Church, 6225 Summit Street, Halifax, NS