Music for the ballet is our feature on this week’s An English Pastorale with music by Edward Elgar, Arnold Bax and Constant Lambert.
Edward Elgar’s The Sanguine Fan was written in 1917 for a performance in support of war charity. The light plot of the ballet was taken from the scenario depicted on a sylvan fan by artist Charles Sonder. The entire composition wasn’t recorded until 1973. We’ll hear the 1989 recording by Brydon Thomson and the London Philharmonic.
From Dusk Till Dawn by Arnold Bax (PHOTO) was commissioned by the same woman who commissioned Elgar’s work in the same year. She requested a ballet from Bax for a charity matinee at London’s Palace Theatre. The story revolves around china figures who can suddenly move one summer night.
Constant Lambert’s Romeo and Juliet is one of only two commissions for British composer by the famous Russian choreographer Sergei Diaghilev. It’s not a traditional retelling of the Shakespeare classic, but about a ballet company rehearsing for a performance. The story picks up on the traditional tale except for the fact that at the end the lovers elope by airplane. The original set and costume design was a collaboration by Max Ernst and Joan Miro.
Join us for An English Pastorale Sunday morning at 9 on Classical 90.5. In the meantime, enjoy an excerpt from Romeo and Juliet with photos of the set design:
“Your music has struck a fibre in my being, which is beyond analysis, but which I feel is the truest and noblest chord that has yet been souned in our art.”
-Letter from Granville Bantock to Frederick Delius
Granville Bantock was an influential musical force in Great Britain, both in and behind the music scene. Born into a wealthy family, his father attempted to make Granville into a diplomat, then a chemist. But Bantock found the disciplines distasteful to the point that he began to suffer ill health from depression. His father eventually acquiesced to Granville’s plea to study music.
Bantock attended the Royal Academy of Music and his music career took off. He became a conductor of light opera while writing his own compositions. Through his conducting duties he was introduced to the big names in classical music in Britain at the time.
Bantock was known for his kindness to other musicians. He often offered his home to friends if they were visiting for extended stays. When he heard that his friend Frederick Delius was in financial straits, he bought the Delius home and then allowed the Deliuses to remain in their home rent-free. He was knighted for his services to music and education in 1930.
Although the cello received the attention of composers like Antonio Vivaldi and Joseph Haydn in the 1700′s, the instrument wasn’t popularly utilized as a solo instrument in Great Britain until the Victorian age and later.
Cyril Scott was a master of musical miniatures, blending late Romanticism with hints of Impressionism. The extraordinary Pastoral and Reel was written for the British cellist Beatrice Harrison (PHOTO). Scott also wrote a full concerto for cello and orchestra for Mrs. Harrison.
George Dyson’s Prelude, Fantasy and Chaconne was written for the 1936 Three Choirs Festival. It was originally conceived as a work for cello and small orchestra, but also exists in a version for cello and piano.
The Concerto for cello and orchestra, Op. 85 by Edward Elgar is among the greatest cello concertos ever written. Elgar recorded the work with Harrison as soloist, but the opus didn’t achieve its current status in the repertoire until cellist Jacqueline du Pre recorded the work in the 1960′s.
Join Alan Brandt as he presents these works on An English Pastorale, Sunday at 9am on Classical 90.5.
Cyril Scott – Pastoral and Reel
George Dyson – Prelude Fantasy and Chaconne
Edward Elgar – Cello Concerto
The Metropolitan Opera wraps up its Saturday Matinee broadcasts for the season, this Saturday at 1pm, with Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella). Opera will continue on Saturday’s with Lyric Opera of Chicago and other productions from around the country. (Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)