Spanish Night (BBC Proms 2011)

BBC Proms 2011, No. 10, “Spanish Night” (July 22). Compositions by Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Manuel de Falla. BBC Philharmonic conducted by Juanjo Mena.

Programme

  1. Debussy – Gigues (Images pour orchestre – 1st part) (1)
  2. Ravel – Rapsodie espagnole (2)
  3. Debussy – Rondes de printemps (Images pour orchestre – 3rd part) (3)
  4. Ravel – Alborada del gracioso (“Morning Song of the Jester”) (4th movement of Miroirs)(4)
  5. Falla – Nights in the Gardens of Spain (Spanish: Noches en los jardines de España). Piano: Steven Osborne. (5)
  6. Debussy – Iberia (Images pour orchestre – 2nd part) (6)

Notes

  1. Images pour orchestre is an orchestral composition in three sections by Claude Debussy, written between 1905 and 1912. Debussy had originally intended this set of Images as a two-piano sequel to the first set of Images for solo piano, as described in a letter to his publisher Auguste Durand as of September 1905. However, by March 1906, in another letter to Durand, he had begun to think of arranging the work for orchestra rather than two pianos. Written between 1909 and 1912, the original title of Gigues was Gigues tristes. Debussy used his memories of England as inspiration for the music, in addition to the song “Dansons la gigue” by Charles Bordes the Tyneside folk tune “The Keel Row”.
  2. Rapsodie espagnole is an orchestral rhapsody written by the French composer Maurice Ravel. Composed between 1907 and 1908, the Rapsodie represents one of Ravel’s first major works for orchestra. In its atmosphere, the Rapsodie reflects the profound influence of the Spanish musical heritage imparted to Ravel by his Basque mother. As a child, Ravel would listen to his mother sing him folk songs from her country. Later works by Ravel, such as Boléro (Ravel) – Wiener Philharmoniker and the opera L’heure espagnole, also claim similar sources of inspiration. The work has four parts:
    1. Prélude à la nuit: très modéré
    2. Malagueña: assez vif
    3. Habanera: assez lent et d’un rythme las
    4. Feria: assez animé.
  3. Debussy used two folk tunes, “Nous n’irons plus au bois” and “Do, do l’enfant do” in this movement.
  4. Miroirs is a suite for solo piano written by Maurice Ravel between 1904 and 1905. First performed by Ricardo Viñes in 1906, Miroirs contains five movements, each dedicated to a fellow member of the French avant-garde artist group, Les Apaches. Dedicated to Michel-Dimitri Calvocoressi, Alborada del gracioso (“Morning Song of the Jester”) is a technically challenging piece that incorporates Spanish musical themes into its complicated melodies.
  5. Nights in the Gardens of Spain (Spanish: Noches en los jardines de España), G. 49, is a piece of music by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. Falla was Andalusian and the work refers to the Hispano-Arabic past of this region (Al-Andalus). The work depicts three gardens:
    • En el Generalife (In the Generalife): The first gardens are in the Generalife, the jasmine-scented gardens surrounding the Alhambra.
    • Danza lejana (A Distant Dance): The second garden is an unidentified distant one in which there is an exotic dance.
    • En los jardines de la Sierra de Córdoba (In the Gardens of the Sierra de Córdoba): The third set of gardens are in the Sierra de Córdoba. The best-known inhabitant of the gardens of the Sierra de Córdoba was the Sufi philosopher Ibn Masarra, and the dances depicted here are presumably Sufi dances.
  6. Ibéria is the most popular of the three orchestral Images and itself forms a triptych within a triptych. The music is inspired by impressions of Spain. The three sections of Ibéria are:
    1. Par les rues et par les chemins (“In the streets and by-ways”)
    2. Les parfums de la nuit (“The fragrance of the night”)
    3. Le matin d’un jour de fête (“The morning of a festival day”)

Sources

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