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Great Expectations
Family Concert: Saturday, 24 January 2009, Strovolos Municipal Theatre, Nicosia, 17:00

Soloists: Teachers of CyYSO Music Workshop
Sorin Alexandru Horlea (violin), Robert Hovhanessian (violin), Vladimir Tkachenko (viola)
Miranda Papaneocleous (cello), Nicos Ioannou (double bass)

Music Direction: Kalervo Kulmala

Entrance Free

Programme:
V.Williams: Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis
J. Sibelius: Spring Song, Lemminkäinen, Lemminkäinen's Return

V.WILLIAMS: Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis
Regarded as one of the finest British composers of the 20th century, Ralph Vaughan Williams was an imperative figure in the exploration of his country’s folksong and the music of the English Renaissance. In 1902, Vaughan Williams began collecting folk-tunes and in 1906, Vaughan Williams edited a new version of the English Hymnal. The composer, though not a particularly religious man, demonstrated a unique passion for religious music, probably because his affection derived more from the significance he placed on ordinary people and their history rather than on his faith in God. During the English Hyman project, Vaughan Williams came across the great Tudor composer Thomas Tallis and the themes he had contributed to the Metrical Psalter (the hymn-book of the Archbishop Matthew Parker) in 1567. The third of those melodies, a Phrygian-mode church tune captured Vaughan Williams’s interest as it was immensely meditative and profound, depicting the magnitude of sacred music in the sixteenth century. Vaughan Williams composed the inspiring Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis in 1910, but revised and shortened the work twice before its publication in 1921. Scored for a string quartet, a small string orchestra and a full string orchestra, the Fantasia signifies the composer’s gift for fusing past and present in an effectively arresting way. The work presents four contrasting, but equally striking sections, while the main theme is impressively developed and brilliantly manipulated in sublime variations before the overwhelming climax at the end.

J. SIBELIUS: Spring Song
Jean Sibelius had a unique fascination with the ancient sagas and the rich folklore of his country. One of the greatest figures in the music of Scandinavia, the composer expressed his own national feelings in an inimitable music language inspired by Finland’s folk poetry and dark landscape. Composed in 1892, his Kullervo Symphony initiated a period during which the largest part of Finnish music would be inspired by the legends of Lönnrott’s epic Kalevala. Two years after the premiere of Kullervo, Sibelius was approached by Axel Stenius, conductor of the Vaasa orchestra and artistic director of the local five-day music festival, with a commission to compose a tone poem for the 1894 festival. The composer wrote Vårsång (Spring Song), an orchestral piece of exquisite lyrical quality suggestive of Northern Lights. The work, which was originally set in the key of D major and was entitled Improvisation for Orchestra, received its lukewarm premiere in the following June with Stenius directing the orchestra. Sibelius thoroughly revised the piece in 1895, transposing it in the key of F major.

J. SIBELIUS: Swan of Tuonela and Lemminkäinen's Return (from the Lemminkäinen Suite)
The four-section symphonic poem, which Sibelius later classified as symphony, the Four Legends of Lemminkäinen, Op. 22, completed in 1896, exposes a variety of forms and techniques, while it does not follow a narrative in chronological order. Accordingly, the Suite is rarely performed in its entirety and each of the legends is usually presented as a detached work. Each movement revolves around Lemminkäinen, a hero resembling Wagner’s Siegfried, and his exploits. Originally written as the prelude of the abandoned opera (The Building of the Boat), the captivating Swan of Tuonela recounts Lemminkäinen’s adventures at Tuonela, which the composer described as “the land of death, the hell of Finnish mythology, surrounded by a broad river with black waters and rapid currents, on which the Swan of Tuonela floats majestically”. Lemminkäinen attempts to kill the Swan, embodied in the work by the English horn, in order to win a maiden of Pojho. He is brutally slaughtered by the guardians of Tuonela and subsequently brought back to life by his mother’s magic powers. The exciting Lemminkäinen’s Return describes the hero’s tempestuous journey back home. A note in the program of the 1896 premiere, explained, “Lemminkäinen is the warrior-hero, the Achilles, of Finnish mythology. His intrepidity and beauty make him the favorite of the women. Exhausted by a long series of wars and combats, he determines to seek his home. He turns his sorrows and cares into warhorses, and sets out.” Accompanied by his faithful companion, Tiera, and having lost his horses and boat, Lemminkäinen overcomes a series of escapades, only to triumphantly reach his homeland.


 

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