<< -- 3 -- Bill Newman A SPECIAL NIGHT
Ballabile con variazioni, nel ballo Ettrore Fieramosca (1837) for piccolo clarinet by Giacomo Panizza (1804-1860), however, found them standing on their seats cheering their heads off. Henry Lazarus, famed 'Paganini of the clarinet' was La Scala's principal when Panizza conducted them from 1835-52, and Act III of Fieramosca's opera The Challenge of Burletta (published in 1837) contains a festa di ballo which takes place in a banqueting hall. It contains this E flat clarinet 'solo', although in this instance Maestro Davies was required to negotiate just as many 'cartwheels' during his demanding and challenging piano accompaniment.
Two delectable Bizet songs at this point in the proceedings were all that was required to calm savage breasts. Chansons d'Avril with its opening stanza 'Get up! Get up! Spring is just born' to words by Bouilhet contains shades of Maggie Teyte and Heddle Nash singing to audiences in the 1930s, while Adieux del'Hotesse Arabe has the same Eastern promise as the opera The Pearl Fishers.
Those delightful 'occasional' pieces for clarinet and piano owe debts of thanks to British Tunesmiths who were able to spin their personal charms to all but the hard-boiled, non-emotional among us. I found myself examining composer dates of Charles Harford Lloyd (1849-1919), a Gloucester organist and composer of Bon voyage -- Impromptu, Algernon Ashton (1859-1937), lay clerk at Durham Cathedral (Tarantella), Sir Edward German (1862-1936), light opera composer,and immediately recognizable (Romance in F), and Harold Samuel (1879-1937), pianist and Bach specialist (Novelette), and finally realizing that there isn't a classical composer capable of writing a melody now that one can hum in the street!
And when you match in the human voice with clarinet and piano -- beautifully balanced here -- you can spot-check other composer influences on Spohr (1784-1859) in the Spring-like Mendelssohnian setting of Zwiegesang, while Schubert's prophetic melancholia pervades Seit ich ihn gesehen (Lachner, 1803-90), Der Sennin Heimweh (Kalliwoda, 1801-66), and Alpenlied (Spaeth, 1790-1876).
I stayed for the first encore: Sir George Alexander Macfarren's Pack Clouds Away, which brought the composer instant fame overnight.
Copyright © 15 April 2004
Bill Newman, Edgware UK
THE WIGMORE HALL