Carl Maria von Weber - Euryanthe: Overture

Carl Maria von Weber composed the opera Euryanthe  during the period 1822-23 and first presented it in Vienna on October 25, 1823. The work was based on a French medieval history of 13th century.  The year Euryanthe was presented was marked by Vienna's interest in Italian operas, particularly those of Rossini . Although the initail reception was enthusiastic, the opera lasted only twenty performances, with complaints about the libretto and the length of the opera. For the failure of the play, the somewhat wordy libretto of the poet and writer Helmina von Chézy was blamed. Franz Schubert also commented that "This is not music". Nevertheless, the introduction is an excellent example of orchestral writing and remains one of the best. The Overture begins with an extremely lively and cheerful phrase. Oboe and clarinet, supported by horn and trombones, then present a theme of three emphatic notes, followed by a shorter ascending group of notes (with a stressed rhythm). Soon t

Georges Bizet - L’ Arlésienne, Suite No. 1

Page from the manuscript of the composition of Bizet L' Arlesienne.

In 1872 Bizet wrote the stage music for a work of love and tragedy in rural Provence, written by Alphonse Daudet. Based on a true story, he refers to two brothers: Fréderi, who is in love with a girl from Arles, and L’Innocent, his mentally retarded brother, who miraculously regains his intelligence after his brother's death.

The play was not very successful and a month after its first presentation, Bizet created this four-part suite for a concert. Music immediately became popular and is the form in which L’ Arlésienne is heard today.

Movements:

I. Prélude, Allegro deciso

The Prelude to this tragic drama begins with an old Provenian march played by strings and woodwinds, first separately and then in unisono. Here are three variations of the theme, before the entire orchestra plays this lively march in its original form.

The second part is slow, strangely excruciating and low-key serene. This is the musical theme of L’Innocent, the retarded spiritual boy of the original work, which is rendered by the charmed saxophone.

The Prelude concludes with the ominous and passionate theme of Fréderi, the young man who is in love with "girl from Arles". This is inserted from the violins before other sections take over and eventually the entire orchestra.


II. Minuet, Allegro giocoso

Minuet begins with strings in a light music full of cheer and joy. Then, after a rhythmic, lyrical part, the clarinet and the saxophone play a beautiful tune, while the violins hover in a mesmerizing 
contrapuntal melody. Everything is effortlessly and delightfully orchestrated. Towards the end of the part, the oboe sings a phrase and then the opening theme reappears. The part ends with a charming dialogue between strings and woodwings.


III. Adagietto

Adagietto is one of the finest parts of the suite. It depicts a youthful love that comes back to life after fifty years of separation and is full of courtesy and passion. It ends exquisitely with a serene, full-hearted phrase.


IV. Carillon, Allegro moderato

The sounds of the bell at the beginning of Carillon are disarmingly simple and announce the gathering of villagers preparing for the feast of the patron saint. The theme is repeated and changed before the introduction of a medium section, which includes a thoughtful melody in the flute. But while this melody is played by the flute and strings, the horns sound and gently lead the music back to Carillon's inaugural music, which ends with a resounding forte.




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