Concerts: Celtic Voyage

Celtic Voyage:
Berlioz, Stanford, Williams, Alwyn, Bruch

The idea of Celtic music may suggest rugged landscapes like the Scottish Highlands or the West coast of Ireland, but this program explores many kinds of landscape and a variety of moods. Hector Berlioz’s Rob Roy Overture (1831) is a surprisingly gentle tribute to the Scottish warrior — a harp is used to accompany the main English horn melody. Moreover the 6/8 meter suggests the high spirits of a lively young man rather than the menace and desperation of a warrior or outlaw. If some of this music sounds familiar, it’s because Berlioz used or developed certain bits three years later in his symphony for viola and orchestra, Harold in Italy. Unlike Berlioz’s overture, Charles Villiers Stanford’s Irish Rhapsody #5 (1917), is based on actual Irish melodies, mostly lively and joyful, but sometimes tender and nostalgic. They are reminiscent of other nationalistic, folk-inspired works, such as Brahms’s Hungarian Dances, and, indeed, there’s much of Brahms’s style in this work. The authentic style of Irish folk music is more apparent in John Williams’s score for Ron Howard’s 1992 film, Far and Away.

The featured work in this concert is a masterpiece in the repertory of concerted works from violin and orchestra, Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasia (1880), a four-movement fantasia on Scottish folktunes. Bruch evokes traditional instruments by using a harp to accompany the violin and by suggesting a bagpipe’s drone base in the nostalgic and often passionate second movement. The finale, a vigorous arrangement of Robert Burns’s "Hey Tuttie Tatie", is full of virtuosic fireworks. Before performing with her husband, Josef Scheer, in the Bruch, Susan Robinson will play a portion from William Alwyn’s harp concerto, Lyra Angelica, which means "Angel’s Songs." Based on a religious epic poem by Giles Fletcher, a 17th-century English mystical poet, the emotions in this colorful work range from meditative to fervent and ecstatic.

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Celtic Voyage
Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 3:00 PM
Rashi Auditorium
15 Walnut Park
Newton, MA 02458
Phone: (617) 965-2555
Website: newtonsymphony.org
E-Mail: [email protected]
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