DEBUSSY: Petite Suite
SAINT-SAËNS: Cello Concerto No. 1, op. 33, A minor
GLUCK, arr. Felix Mottl: Orfeo ed Euridice: Dance of the Blessed Spirits
RAVEL: Le Tombeau de Couperin
This lively and romantic program pays homage to great music written by French composers who lived between the end of the 19th–century and the Second World War.
Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and Camille Saint-Saëns are three of France’s most beloved composers. Regarded as a musical revolutionary, Debussy is associated with musical impressionism, although he rejected the application of that term to his music. Ravel also rejected the banner of impressionism and saw himself more as a classicist who synthesized traditional structures and forms in combination with innovative approaches to melody, harmony, and rhythm. Saint-Saëns’ music relies on the tried-and-true forms of the Classical tradition, as reinterpreted by the Romantics.
Though not French, Christoph Willibald Gluck had an enormous impact on French opera, reforming it with an emphasis on dramatic depth and pacing over vocal pyrotechnics.
This program presents Debussy’s Petite Suite, a work originally for piano four hands and later arranged for orchestra by Henri Büsser. The melodic and harmonic simplicity of the music contrasts starkly with the modernist works that Debussy was writing around the same time. Saint-Saëns’ technically demanding Cello Concerto No. 1 will be performed by the Columbus Symphony’s principal cellist, Luis Biava. Gluck’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits from his opera Orfeo ed Euridicebeautifully exemplifies Gluck’s revolutionary principle that in opera, music and poetry should never overstate the emotional depths of the messages thy are meant to convey. Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin is a lovely Baroque-inspired suite, each movement of which is dedicated to the memory of a friend of the composer who had died fighting in World War I.