1 December 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
The programme for DUPO Symphony’s first concert of 2017-18 is tied together by its French theme. There is an ideal combination of the unrecognised and more mainstream; the boisterous and the stirring; the showpieces and the more serious works.
Scènes pittoresques, written in 1874, is the fourth of Jules Massenet’s seven orchestral suites. Split into four contrasting but greatly tuneful movements, the piece follows less of a direct theme than Massenet’s other orchestral suites, and is more a depiction of four different “characters”: ‘Marche’, ‘Air de Ballet’, ‘Angelus’ and a grand finale entitled ‘Fête bohème’. Though one of the more popular of Massenet’s orchestral suites, Scènes pittoresques remains relatively under-performed outside of France. Regardless, it is a fine example of the composer’s talent for musical writing outside of his many operas.
Despite the success it brought to Francis Poulenc after it was premiered by the Ballet Russes in 1924, ‘Les Biches’ is one of the more underrated works in the French repertoire. We will be performing the orchestral suite, the movements of which are taken from the original ballet. The story is based around a house party in the south of France in the 1920s. ‘Biche’, The French for a doe or doe-like animal, is a slang term for a provocative woman, and there is an ambiguous, implied sexual element to the proceedings. The music is filled with beautiful melodies and harmonies, and its light nature makes it extremely easy to listen to.
Maurice Ravel’s ‘Ma Mere L’Oye’ will open our second half. First written in 1910 as five piano duets for children, Ravel, a master orchestrator, turned the five pieces into an orchestral suite in 1911, before adding another two movements to the beginning and adding in four new interludes in the same year as part of the ballet, which was premiered in 1912. This is by far the most famous of the works we will be playing, and with good reason. The sweet, impressionist harmonies and unforgettable melodies make it a very each listen.
Taken from Emmanuel Chabrier’s 1887 opera-comique ‘Le roi malgre lui’, Fete Polonaise is an orchestral excerpt with which we will finish our concert. Ravel was a great admirer of the whole opera, claiming that the premiere “changed the course of French harmony”, and Deborah Mawer points out that from bar 478 of Scarbo, the third movement of Gaspard de la Nuit, “Ravel’s left hand figuration comes not for note…” in the equivalent point in Charbrier’s piano reduction of the Fete Polonaise. The excerpt also bears some similarities to La Valse, and will be a perfect ‘showpiece’ to finish what will be an enthralling concert.
Important Event Information
Doors Open: 7:00 pm
Ticket Prices: Adult £10, Concession £7, Student £7
Music Durham Member Tickets: Log in for Music Durham discount ticket £6
Ticket Availability: Tickets will be available online from 12th November
Ticket Delivery: eTicket (print at home or display on mobile)
Accessibility: Please get in touch to confirm arrangements