ClefLogo  Concert 1 - Programme Notes


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Scott Brothers Duo     


Concert No 1

8pm Saturday 29th September 2018
at Holmes Chapel Leisure Centre


Scott Brothers Duo  
(Jonathan and Tom Scott - Piano Duet)  

  “I don't think I've ever met two people so talented as
the Scott Brothers”
- Manchester Evening News


The programme notes for this concert are:

Overture to The Barber of Seville
by Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) arr. J. Scott

Rossini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville tells the tale of Figaro (the barber of the title and the same character who appears in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro). The premiére of the opera in 1816 was a near disaster with several on stage accidents by the cast, and an audience who hissed and jeered all the way through the performance. Fortunately, the second night was a success and the opera has been a favourite ever since, especially its witty Overture which perfectly captures the lively action and comedy of the opera from the very start.

First performance at HCMS concerts.

 

Petite Suite
by Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
      I En bateau      II Cortège      III Menuet      IV Ballet

Debussy wrote his Petite Suite between 1886 and 1889 for piano duet. In 1907, the work was orchestrated by Henri Busser, a younger French composer who was noted for his orchestration skills. It has been arranged for many other instrumental combinations, but none surpasses the beautiful simplicity of the original. Petite Suite was first performed on February 2, 1889 by Debussy with the pianist-publisher Jacques Durand. The work demonstrates Debussy’s lyrical skills but also uses many new harmonies and colours which caused the critics to turn against his later works. It may have been written, possibly at the suggestion of Durand, for the lucrative market of music for amateur musicians who commanded a great deal of attention at this period and wanted tuneful chamber music that they could master.

There are four separate movements, written to give equal opportunities to both pianists. The first movement, En bateau (In a boat), has a peaceful melody accompanied by broken chords, suggesting gentle ripples in water. This movement actually uses one of the signature elements of Debussy’s later harmonic style, the wholetone scale, albeit in a very subtle manner. The next movement, Cortège (Procession), depicts a joyful festival parade with the suggestion of a marching band processing past. The beautiful Menuet follows, symptomatic of an eerie medieval dance which is achieved through Debussy’s imitation of modal harmony and melodies in open intervals. The final movement is an energetic dance movement entitled Ballet. Whether it depicts a rehearsal by a ballet company or an evening spent at the ballet is unclear. I’m sure Debussy would have been happy for the listener to create his or her own tale.

Previously performed at HCMS concerts by the Albion Ensemble on 25th September 1982.

 

Duet Sequence
by Tom Scott (b.1981)

Written in 2016 for our own performances, Duet Sequence brings piano duets into the 21st Century.

Tom writes: “Duet Sequence is made up of repeating sequences which are reminiscent of classical ostinato patterns (I've always enjoyed playing the fast Alberti Bass passages found in classical music). It also contains other musical sequences which require the same (if not more) technical freedom and control to play. Ultimately I wanted to compose a work for piano duet that would be popular.”

First performance at HCMS concerts.

 

Vltava (Die Moldau from Má Vlast)
by Bedřich Smetana (1824-84)

Written between 1875 and 1880, Má Vlast (My Homeland) is a set of six Symphonic Poems, each depicting part of the history, countryside and legends of Smetana's homeland of Bohemia. Originally written for orchestra, Smetana transcribed the work for piano duet.

Vltava, (also known as The Moldau), is the most popular of the six movements of Má Vlast, and depicts the journey of one of Bohemia's great rivers. The music portrays the river starting as two small springs which unify into a single current and flow through the Bohemian countryside, passing woods and meadows, a farmer's wedding, the round dance of the mermaids in moonlight, castles, palaces, and ancient ruins. The Vltava swirls into the stormy St. John's Rapids before it widens and flows towards Prague, before majestically vanishing into the distance.

First performance at HCMS concerts.

 

Slavonic Dances Op.46
by Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
      No.1 Furiant. Presto (C major)
      No.6 Sousedská. Allegretto scherzando (D major)
      No.8 Furiant. Presto (G minor)

Dvořák wrote 16 Slavonic dances between 1878 and 1886 and published them in two sets as Op.46 and Op.72 for piano duet. They were inspired by the rise of nationalistic music and also the huge success of Johannes Brahms' Hungarian Dances. Piano Duets were big business, and Simrock, the publisher of Brahms music, brought out an edition of Dvořák's Dances which were so successful that he commissioned another set, as well as orchestrations of them all. Unlike Brahms' Dances, Dvořák didn't use actual Slavonic themes, but took the traditional Slavonic rhythms as his inspiration, combined with his own melodies. Tonight we perform three of the dances, two of which are lively 'Furiant' Dances which give a constantly shifting 3/4 and 2/4 feel, and the other is a 'Sousedská' which is a calmer tradional swaying dance.

Previously performed at HCMS concerts by Camerata Wind Soloists on 23rd April 1988.

 

Sonata in D Major K 381
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91)       i. Allegro      ii. Andante      iii. Allegro Molto

Mozart's music for piano duet was primarily written for performances with his own sister, Nannerl, especially for their early performances together on tours of Europe. The Sonata in D Major K.381 was written in 1772 for their performances, and Nannerl would have performed the top 'Primo' part with Wolfgang performing the bass 'Secondo' part. Mozart reserved the key of D Major for his most joyful music, and this work is no exception.

Previously performed at HCMS concerts by Keith Swallow & John Wilson on 20th September 1997.

 

Sicilienne BWV 1031
by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) arr. J. Scott

Due to its rather Gallant style, Johann Sebastian Bach's Flute Sonata in E flat was for many years thought to be by another composer, but it is now generally accepted as one of Bach's works. The central Siciliano movement is one of Bach's most beautiful solo line creations, and has been transcribed many times for just about every instrument. Tonight's duet version creates a rich tapestry of lines, achieving a sound world which is unique to four hands at one piano.

First performance at HCMS concerts.

 

Polovtsian Dances
by Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) arr. J. Scott

Borodin is a fascinating character for a number of reasons. Firstly, he was the illegitimate son of a Georgian nobleman and was brought up initially by a Russian serf with the name of Borodin and then later by his 'aunt' who was actually his mother. Secondly, he was Professor of Chemistry at the Imperial Medical-Surgical Academy in Saint Petersburg, and worked both as a doctor and chemist all over Europe, making many scientific discoveries. Composition was almost a hobby for Borodin (he began composition lessons with Balakirev in 1862) and this meant that the distractions of his scientific work caused many of his compositions to remain unfinished. His opera, Prince Igor, is an example of this and was only completed and premièred after his death. His music gained new life when it was used for the 1953 musical Kismet, most famously The Gliding Dance of the Maidens from Polovtsian Dances was used as the music for Stranger in Paradise. Borodin won a posthumous TONY award for his Broadway show, but this evening we perform Jonathan's virtuosic piano duet transcription of Borodin's original Polovtsian Dances.

First performance at HCMS concerts.

Programme notes by Jonathan Scott 2018.

 

 

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