Johann Straus II - Vergnügungszug (Pleasure Train), op. 281

Johann Strauss II , known for his waltzes and lively compositions, had a unique approach to his creative process. He consistently sought contemporary and relevant themes to serve as the driving force behind his new musical compositions. This approach ensured that his work remained fresh and connected with the audiences of his time.  One notable instance of this creative approach was the composition of this polka, composed in 1864. This piece of music was specifically crafted for a summer concert held in the picturesque Russian town of Pavlovsk. It's fascinating to note that Strauss drew inspiration for this composition from the world around him. In this case, he found it in the emerging technology of the time, namely, the steam locomotive. The composition itself is a testament to Strauss's ability to capture the essence and energy of the subject matter. The rhythm of this dance piece mirrors the rhythmic chugging and movements of the old-fashioned steam trains that were prevale

Georges Bizet - L' Arlésienne (The Girl from Arles), Suite No. 2

Front of the piano transcription of Bizet's L' Arlésienne.

This second suite was created after the death of Georges Bizet by Ernest Guiraud, one of his collaborators. Guiraud used three pieces from Bizet's original, which includes the famous Farandole, but curiously added Menuet from his almost forgotten opera, "The Fair Maid of Perth". It is a wonderful work, particularly beloved by the concert audience, although it does not attribute the drama of rural life of Provence as depicted in the original.


I. Pastorale

Pastorale is scenography at its best. The thunderous rhythm of the music, submits the image of the villagers returning from the fields in the midday heat. But there is also lyricism, in the wonderful melody reminiscent of bird chirping and which is introduced just before the pastoral theme is heard again.

II. Intermezzo

In Intermezzo the main melody is rendered by saxophone and horn, accompanied by the strings. It's music is simple and emotional. In the play, this music precedes the scene where Frédéri agrees to forget Arlésienne and marry the girl who loves him long ago.

III. Minuet

Menuet is a loan from Bizet's opera 1866 opera "The Fair Maid of Perth". Full of kindness and grace it is very popular, although it seems a little out of place in the passionate context of the music that surrounds it.

IV. Farandole

The famous Farandole is based on an old melody from Provence. Here, it incorporates the theme of the March of the Kings once again of Suite No. 1 and which is later woven and combined with Farandole. This lively music, full of cheer and life, is an ideal ending to this excellent work.