b. Bologna, Italy, 1879 / d. Rome, Italy, 1936
Trittico Botticelliano (Three Botticelli Pictures) (1927)
Best known for his tone poems for (very) large orchestra (The Pines and Fountains of Rome), Respighi also composed numerous works for smaller orchestral forces, including this triptych inspired by three Renaissance paintings by Sandro Botticelli (ca.1445-1510). Primavera (Allegory of Spring) depicts a group of mythical figures in an orange grove. Venus, the goddess of love stands at the center. On one side are Flora, goddess of flowers and Spring, and the nymph Chloris, pursued by Zephyrus, the god of the wind. On the other side three Graces perform a dance of love as Amor, blindfolded, floats overhead shooting his arrows of love. L’adorazione dei Magi (The Adoration of the Magi) depicts the Biblical story of the Three Wise Men and others coming to worship Christ at the Nativity. La nascita de Venere (The Birth of Venus) the goddess Venus emerges from the sea on a shell as the winds blow gently showering her with roses. A handmaid waits for the goddess to get closer, ready to dress her shy body.
b. Rohrau, Austria, 1732 / d. Vienna, Austria, 1809
Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major, Hob. Vlle: 1 (1796)
Haydn was in his mid-60’s when he composed the E-flat trumpet concerto for Anton Weidinger, a trumpeter in the Viennese imperial court. Weidinger had invented a keyed trumpet that allowed him to produce more pitches, particularly chromatic tones, and more latitude in the instrument’s lower range than had been possible on the natural trumpet. Inspired by the musical possibilities offered, Haydn was the first to explore the potential of the Weidinger trumpet. James M. Keller describes how Haydn creates curiosity by giving the trumpet’s first entrance only a single note. The orchestra responds, the trumpet enters again playing nothing revolutionary. Keller adds: “Only at its third entrance does the new trumpet really show its colors, with a theme that strolls through an entire major scale and beyond, softly and in a relatively low register, before injecting a little descent of six notes. The effect must have been extraordinary: such a combination of pitches, dynamics, and timbre could not have been heard ever before in history. A compact, firmly constructed sonata-form movement is in the process of unfolding, during which the trumpet is put through its paces in a way that resembles the behavior of other instruments. With this concerto the trumpet enters the modern world.”
b. Darvel, United Kingdom, 1965
Dreaming of the Masters III: Jazz Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra (2010)
The genesis of Gilliland’s three “Dreaming” concertos was a desire to combine his experience as an orchestral composer with his background as a jazz player. Each concerto was inspired by the jazz greats of the instrument (clarinet, piano, trumpet), composed for a soloist who was equally comfortable with both classical and jazz idioms, and each concerto includes opportunities for the player to improvise.
Dreaming III is, by design, a celebration of the trumpet in popular music rather than a nod to any specific performers. The first movement, 101 Damnations, opens with a slow New Orleans blues that moves into a 1940’s style big band swing. The second movement, Prayer, begins and ends with cadenza like statements from the soloist surrounded by colorful orchestration. In between a slow groove allows the soloist to improvise. The final movement, Lower Neighbours, pays tribute to the Spanish/Latin tradition of the trumpet.
Dreaming of the Masters III was premiered on September 17&18, 2010 with Jens Lindemann as soloist and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bruce Hangen.
b. Hamburg, Germany, 1809 /d. Leipzig, Germany, 1847
Symphony No. 4 in A Major, Op. 90 “Italian”
The Italian Symphony is a series of impressions—Mediterranean sunshine, religious solemnity, monumental art and architecture, and open countryside. The first movement Allegro vivace opens with an exuberant melody bursting with energy that can be heard as a musical rendition of the Italian blue sky. (Accustomed to the cloud-flecked skies of northern Europe, Mendelssohn described the Italian symphony as “blue sky in A-major.”) The second movement Andante con moto is occasionally dubbed “Pilgrim’s March” because of a similarity to the “Pilgrim’s March” from Berlioz’s Harold in Italy. The walking bassline suggests the tread of those in the procession while the minor mode evokes the solemnity of the occasion. Instead of the expected Scherzo, the third movement (Con moto moderato) is a minuet that harkens back to Haydn and Mozart from an Italian point of view. The Presto finale is a Saltarello (a leaping Italian folk dance) that eventually incorporates elements of a Tarantella, a devilishly fast dance to be undertaken (so the story goes) after a bite from a tarantula, until the dancer is cured or dies.
- Notes by James Hayes