Georges Bizet (1838-1875)
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Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah (C. Saint-Saëns, 1877): The opera, Samson and Delilah by French librettist Ferdinand Lemaire and French composer Camile Saint-Saëns tells a Biblically-based story of Samson, an Israelite leader and Delilah, a beautiful but ruthless woman. Samson is presented as a person sensitive to statements of love by a dissembling woman. Delilah is presented as a seducer bent on discovering the secret of Samson’s great strength (his uncut hair). When she knows his secret, Samson is blinded, imprisoned, and shorn. The bacchanale (a percussion-driven, celebratory dance performed by Delilah and her priests) occurs just before the blinded Samson returns to the stage, calls on God for his strength, and destroys the Philistine temple. The bacchanale begins softly, reprising a “song to spring” heard in Act 1, but turns savage as the priests and priestesses dance wildly in celebration.

Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah was not initially well received but by 1906 it had become popular and been performed internationally more than 200 times. It is the only one of his operas still regularly performed.
C. Saint-Saëns
(1835-1921)
Modest Mussorsky (1839-1881)
Tonight's Composers
Program notes: April 26, 2014

Program notes for tonight’s concert are abstracted from the following sources: http://www.laphil.com/philpedia /music/bacchanale-from-samson-and-delilah-camille-saint-saens: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samson_and_ Delilah_(opera): ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmen: http: //www .laphil.com/philpedia/music/eight-russian-folk-songs-anatoly-liadov:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatoly _Lyadov: http://www.naxos.com/person/Reinhold_ Gliere/ 26061.htm: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Reinhold_Gli%C3%A8re.
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Carmen (Georges Bizet, 1875): Carmen tells the story of a fiery, but not necessarily truthful Gypsy woman and José, a naïve young soldier. As the story develops José gradually abandons his childhood sweetheart and his post in the guard. Eventually when his love is rejected by Carmen, José kills her in a jealous rage. In some ways the fates of Samson (see Bacchanale above) and José are similar. Both downfalls are tied to love of a beautiful, entrancing, but not necessarily honest woman.

The BSA will play three arias from Carmen, Suite 2, an arrangement completed posthumously by Bizet’s friend Ernest Guiraud. La Garde Montante - A group of soldiers is relaxing in a town square waiting for the changing of the guard. The new troop, which includes José, arrives and the men are greeted by a crowd of urchins ("Avec la garde montante"). Habanera - The beautiful Carmen and her coworkers, on break from the tobacco factory, enter the square and banter with the men. Carmen sings a habanera about the untamable nature of love ("L'amour est un oiseau rebelle"). The men plead with her to choose a lover and after some teasing Carmen throws a flower to José, who is annoyed by her insolence. Even though he is annoyed, his attraction to Carmen is his first step towards incarceration, desertion, and murder. Danse Bohême - A month has passed during which José has been incarcerated for allowing Carmen to escape arrest. Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès are entertaining the guard officers ("Danse Bohême "). Carmen is delighted to learn of José's release from a month's detention and waits for him. When they meet, Carmen asks José to desert his post and go away with her. At first he refuses but eventually, after fighting with his commanding officer, agrees. Soon, Carmen discards José for the toreador Escamillo which leads to her death at José’s hand.

Carmen was not immediately successful and its original production only extended to 36 performances. Tragically, Georges Bizet died suddenly before Carmen’s first run was completed and he never knew of the opera’s ultimate success.

Eight Russian Folk Songs (Anatoly Lyadov, 1906): Lyadov’s Op. 58, show a view of mother Russia similar to that of his teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov. The pieces are dressed in colorfully conceived orchestrations and subjects are treated with warmth, humor, and fantasy. While Lyadov's technical skills were highly regarded, he published little because of a natural indolence and a self-critical lack of confidence. Religious chant:  A stately tune sung by children at religious festivals. Christmas carol: A ride of Christmas fairies in a golden sled drawn by reindeer. Plaintive song: Gentle pleadings voiced, almost entirely by the strings. Humorous song - I danced with a gnat: The strings buzz ominously while flutes and piccolo cavort humorously. Legend of the birds: An exceedingly simple tune; birds (winds) chirp and sing happily. Cradle song: A rocking rhythm in violas sets the mood for the plaintive single-motif lullaby scored for muted strings. Round dance: Pizzicato strings are sprightly throughout, but the piccolo is the prima ballerina. Village dance song: A festival is clearly taking place. The dance is vigorous, if well-mannered and quaintly picturesque.
A Night on Bald Mountain (Modest Mussorgsky, 1867): Inspired by Russian literary works and legend, Mussorgsky devised a "musical picture" around the theme of a witches' sabbath on St. John's Eve. Although It is one of the first tone poems by a Russian composer, it was rejected by Mussorgsky’s mentor, Mily Balakirev, and never performed during Mussorgsky’s lifetime. Mussorgsky made several attempts to publish this music by inserting it-recast for vocal soloists, chorus, and orchestra-in two subsequent projects: the collaborative opera-ballet Mlada (1872), and the opera The Fair at Sorochyntsi (1880). In 1886, five years after Mussorgsky's death, his friend Rimsky-Korsakov published the version most heard today. Rimski-Korsakov replaced Mussorgsky’s original ending with music that invokes daybreak and church bells as a mechanism to disburse the “witches” on the mountain.
Russian Sailors’ Dance (Reinhold Glière, 1927): Reinhold Glière was born in Kiev, the second son of a wind instrument maker who had emigrated from Saxony. At the age of twenty, he entered the Moscow Conservatory but eventually left to teach at the Gnesin School and study conducting in Berlin. In 1920 he returned to Kiev where he became director of the conservatory. In 1927 Glière wrote the music for the ballet Krasny mak (The Red Poppy). Red Poppy was praised "as the first Soviet ballet on a revolutionary subject". In the Red Poppy, his arrangement of a Russian folk song Yablochko ("little apple") consists of a statement of the theme, followed by a series of increasingly frenetic variations that end with a powerful orchestral climax. In the ballet, "little apple" is called Russian Sailor's Dance and is probably Glière’s best-known single piece.
Anatoly Lyodov (1855-1914)
Reinhold Glière (1875-1956)
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