Overture Magazine - 2018-19 Season BSO_Overture_JanFeb_19 | Page 26

RESPGHI PINES OF ROME has now been born and has just received its world premiere on January 16 th with the London Philharmonic with Currie has soloist and Marin Alsop conducting. At these concerts, it makes its American debut. Grime writes music that is vivid, dramatically compelling and simultaneously highly original and often beautiful in the imaginative way it uses instruments, both those of a soloist and the forces of a large orchestra. “I do very much want to connect with the audience,” she says. “I’m not just writing music for myself. I want the audience to be engaged and transported for the duration of the piece.” Her music draws listeners in and progressively rivets their attention. Though born in England, Grime was raised and trained in Scotland before earning two degrees with first-class honors at London’s Royal College of Music. An oboist herself, she first attracted wide attention in 2003 with her Oboe Concerto, which won a British Composer Award; she was the soloist at its world premiere. In 2008, she won a Leonard Bernstein Fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Center, where she studied with John Harbison and Shulamit Ran. From 2011 to 2015, she served as Associate Composer to the revered Hallé Orchestra of Manchester. She was also the Composer- in-Residence for the past two seasons at the legendary Wigmore Hall in London; her first commission for Wigmore was a Piano Concerto for her husband and fellow composer, Huw Watkins. As a young man, he lived for a time in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he became principal violist in the opera orchestra and a student of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Because Respighi was one of those rare composers who drew as much inspiration from his eyes as from his ears, he found Rimsky’s imaginative use of instrumental color ideal for his own creative expression. Also an accomplished conductor, Respighi visited Brazil in 1927 to lead concerts of his music in Rio de Janeiro. Thrilled by the exotic scenes he saw and the Brazilian music he heard, he created Brazilian Impressions on his return home and then brought it back to perform in Brazil in June 1928. The first movement, “Tropical night,” glistens with the high pinging of a harp; this languid, sultry movement is all impressionistic atmosphere. Snatches of Brazilian folk tunes float in and out of the texture. The second movement, “Butantan,” commemorates a visit made to a snake farm run by the Butantan Reptile Institute, where thousands of snakes were bred for their medicinal venom. Respighi brilliantly captures their slithering in low and high clarinets; tambourines and drums portray the rattle snakes. Near the end, the composer, a lover of Gregorian chant, adds the menacing, down-and-up “Dies Irae” chant, creeping quietly in the strings. Relief from this reptilian horror is provided by the graceful “Song and dance” with its swaying rhythms and light, sparkling scoring. Instrumentation: Two flutes including piccolo, two oboes including English horn, two clarinets including E-flat clarinet, two bassoons including contrabasoon, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, harp, celesta and strings. BRAZILIAN IMPRESSIONS THE PINES OF ROME Ottorino Respighi Born in Bologna, Italy, July 9, 1879; died in Rome, Italy, April 18, 1936 Ottorino Respighi was a very well- traveled man who collected influences from cultures far from his native Italy. 24 OV E R T U R E / BSOmusic.org but allowed modern flugelhorns to take their place. And most unusual of all was his inclusion of a gramophone to play the nightingale’s silvery song at the close of movement three. Respighi described the four movements as follows: The Pines of the Villa Borghese: “Children are at play in the pine groves of Villa Borghese; they dance round in circles, they play at soldiers, marching and fighting, they are wrought up by their own cries like swallows at evening, they come and go in swarms. Suddenly the scene changes, and… Pine Trees Near a Catacomb: “We see the shades of the pine trees fring- ing the entrance to a catacomb. From the depth rises the sound of mournful psalm-singing, floating through the air like a solemn hymn, and gradually and mysteriously dispersing.” The Pines of the Janiculum: “A quiver [piano] runs through the air: the pine trees of the Janiculum stand distinctly outlined in the clear light of a full moon. A nightingale is singing.” The Pine Trees of the Appian Way: “Misty dawn on the Appian Way: solitary pine trees guarding the magic landscape; the muffled, ceaseless rhythms of unending footsteps. The poet has a fantastic vision of bygone glories: trumpets sound and, in the brilliance of the newly risen sun, a consular army bursts forth toward the Sacred Way, mounting in triumph to the Capitol.” Brazilian Impressions—instrumentation: After moving to Rome in 1913 to assume a professorship at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia, Respighi embarked on a love affair with his adopted city. He created three love letters to her: The Fountains of Rome, The Pines of Rome and Roman Festivals. Of these, The Pines of Rome was the most popular and Respighi’s own favorite. Here the composer makes spectacular use of a very large orchestra. The giant percussion section includes piano, organ, harp and many bell-like instruments. For the last movement — an epic vision of ancient Rome —Respighi called for six bucelli, the old Roman war trumpets, Three flutes including piccolo, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, two trombones, tuba, timpani percussion, harp, celesta, piano and strings. Pines of Rome—instrumentation: Three flutes including piccolo, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, four trumpets, three trombones, tuba, offstage brass, timpani, percussion, harp, celesta, organ, piano and strings. Notes by Janet E. Bedell, © 2019