Concert II Program
Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868)
Overture to La Scala di Seta
The Overture to Rossini's "Silken Ladder" is typical of the many overtures
Rossini composed. During his years as a successful opera composer Rossini
developed a virtual formula for overture composition. This involved the
creation of a tuneful introduction in slow tempo, often with prominence
given to the horns, followed by a spirited allegro section in sonata form.
Rossini's well-known technique of taking a closing passage three times,
with ever increasing dynamics (the so-called "Rossini crescendo") is a
With this formula in place, Rossini composed a very large number of
overtures with ease, efficiency and speed. He himself did not hold his
efforts in high regard, and was known to say of his overtures: "If you've
heard one, you've heard them all!"
Despite the composer's casual attitude toward his overtures, they have
remained in the standard repertoire even when the operas to which they
were connected have been forgotten (as is the case with La Scala di
This is no doubt due to their constant good humor, delightful melodies,
and appealing musical content.
Manuel de Falla (1876–1946)
El Amor Brujo (Love, The Magician) Ballet Suite
n his early thirties, Manuel de Falla spent seven years in Paris, where he
became friendly with Debussy, Dukas and Ravel, composers who aided and
encouraged him and whose music influenced him greatly. When he returned
home to Spain in 1914, it was with a thoroughly honed compositional
technique that incorporated French Impressionism into a personal and
Spanish national style.
One of the first products of Falla's return to Spain was El Amor
piece originally conceived as a gitanería, or Gypsy scene with singing,
which was completed in 1915, written to a text by María and Gregorio
Martínez Sierra, whom he had known in Paris. In this form, it included
sung and spoken parts and numerous dances. In 1916 Falla re-orchestrated
the work, omitted the vocal parts, and had it performed in a concert
version. Still later, he converted the work into a ballet and restored the
Here is a brief synopsis of the action:
Candelas, a young and beautiful woman, once loved a wicked gypsy. After
his death she is plagued by his memory, which haunts her every thought.
Carmello, a handsome youth, falls in love with Candelas, despite her
obsession with her past relationship. When Carmello professes his love,
the specter of Candelas' former lover returns to force them apart.
Carmello resolves to break the spell that keeps Candelas from him. He was
once acquainted with the evil gypsy whose specter now haunts his love, and
he knows of the evil gypsy's taste for beautiful women. He determines to
strike at this weakness by recruiting Lucia, a young and pretty gypsy girl
who is a friend of Candelas, to beguile the specter. While the specter is
thus distracted, Carmello returns unnoticed and kisses
the spell. The specter immediately perishes, vanquished by love.
Franz Schubert (1797–1828) (arr. Mahler)
Death and the Maiden, D. 810, in D Minor
In the late nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth many
conductors saw fit to produce orchestral arrangements of well-known pieces
of chamber music to play with their orchestras. As both a conductor and a
composer, Gustav Mahler was well suited to this task. During the course of
his lifetime, he produced many arrangements of works by Bach and
Beethoven, as well as the arrangement of Schubert's string quartet Death
and the Maiden for string orchestra. Mahler worked on the arrangement of
Schubert's masterpiece in 1894, but he did not complete it, and it was
only published in 1984 after the manuscript was discovered by the
composer's daughter Anna.
In making his arrangements, Mahler took into account not only the original
score, but also the unique sound the full orchestra was capable of making.
For instance, his arrangement of Beethoven's Eroica symphony expands on
the massive quality of the music. Whereas Beethoven's original
orchestration calls for a fairly small orchestra, Mahler's requires huge
forces. The result, although true to the message of the music, sounds
somewhat more like Mahler than Beethoven.
Mahler's arrangement of Death and the Maiden departs much less from the
original score. The original parts are maintained, augmented only by the
addition of the string basses. The urgent and tragic quality of the music
comes through, and the music sounds like it was written for the larger
forces Mahler requires, a sure sign of a successful arrangement.