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Sunday 14th May 2006 8pm
Elizabeth de Lacey - Conductor
 
Mussorgsky - Night on a Bare Mountain
Guest Conductor- Sinead Hayes
 
Stravinsky - Firebird Suite
 
Poulenc - Gloria
Jordene Thomas - Soprano
Programme Notes
Modest Mussorgsky (1839 - 1881)
Night on a Bare Mountain
Modest Mussorgsky was born in 1839 and died in 1881 at the age of 42. He composed the tone poem Night on a Bare Mountain in 1866-67.
Mussorgsky was not a professional musician - he worked by day as a government clerk - and had very little formal musical training but his music was original and daring. He was one of a group of composers nicknamed 'the Russian Five' who, not content with writing music in the German or Italian style, wanted to create a national style, based on folk music and traditional folk tales.
Mussorgsky composed Night on a Bare Mountain, originally entitled St John’s Night on a Bare Mountain, after hearing Liszt's Danse Macabre . According to Russian folklore, St John’s Eve was the night when evil spirits collected on Bare Mountain, and the demonic element is very evident in the music.
After Mussorgsky’s early death much of his music was completed, orchestrated or revised by Rimsky Korsakov and this piece is no exception, being Rimsky Korsakov’s arrangement of Mussorgsky’s original work.
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Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
Gloria
    Gloria
    Laudamus Te
    Domine Deus
    Domine Fili Unigenite
    Dominus Deus, Agnes Dei
    Qui Sedes Ad Dexteram Patri
Francis Poulenc was one of a somewhat notorious group of young French composers who became known as ’Les Six’. Their aims were to break away from the twin influences of Germanic formality and French impressionism, and to employ a direct and simple style in their own music. Of the six, Poulenc was undoubtedly the most successful.
Poulenc evidently saw himself a primarily a composer of religious music, although it was not until 1936, following his return to Catholicism, that he produced his first sacred work. A steady stream of religious pieces then flowed from his pen, including a Mass and a series of motets. His first large-scale choral work, the Stabat Mater, appeared in 1950, and the Gloria in 1959, only four years before his death. Both employ the same forces - chorus, soprano solo and large orchestra - and both enjoyed immediate success. They have remained firm favourites with singers and audiences ever since.
The Gloria was commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation of the Library of Congress in America. The words from the Mass are set to music of an unmistakable freshness and vivacity. Some critics at the time suggested that it bordered on the sacrilegious; Poulenc replied, ’While writing it I had in mind the Crozzli frescoes with angles sticking out their tongues, and also some solemn-looking Benedictine monks that I saw playing football on day.’
Poulenc’s sense of humour and love of life shine through all his music, however solemn the text might be.
One of his contempories said of him, ’There is in him something of the monk and something of the urchin.’
The Gloria fully bears out this observation, with its appealing blend of solemnity and joy.
 
John Bawden
Musical Director (1994-2006)
Fareham Philharmonic Choir
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Igor Stravinsky (1882 - 1971)
Firebird Suite (1919 revised version)
    Introduction
    L'oiseau de Feu et sa Danse
    Variation de L'oiseau de Feu
    Ronde des Princesses
    Danse Infernale du Roi Kastchei
    Berceuse
    Final
While out hunting, the Czar’s son, Prince Ivan, sees a fabulous bird with plumage of fire. In exchange for her freedom, the Firebird gives Ivan a magic feather and flies away. Prince Ivan then stumbles across an enchanted castle, and in the garden watches thirteen beautiful maidens throwing and catching apples from a beautiful tree. The princessess war Ivan of the evil Kastchei in the castle who, for his own amusement, imprisons beautiful girls and turns travellers into stone. Ivan, who has fallen in love with the most beautiful of the Princessess, is determined to free them. He enters the castle, and is faced by the evil Kastchei and his henchmen. The magic feather shields him from harm, and the Firebird appears, sending Kastchei and his ogres into a mad dance which leaves them exhausted. The Firebird then lulls them to sleep giving Ivan the opportunity to steal the box in which is kept the soul of thekastchei in the form of an egg. Ivan hurls the egg to the ground smashing it to pieces and destroying the Kastchei’s powers. His victims are freed and Ivan wins the hand of the Princess.
The music for the ballet Firebird was commissioned from Stravinsky by Diaghilev, impresario for the Ballets Russes, and its success launched his career. It also set a new standard for music written for ballet. As with all the music he was to write for ballet, Stravinsky wanted to be very much involved in the whole creative process and worked very closely with the choreographer, Fokine, to produce a work in which music and dance are equal partners.
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