Spectacular Spring Gala Repertoire
The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by G.F. Handel is a bright and energetic sinfonia for two oboes and strings that was written in the mid-18th century, at the height of the Baroque period. Placed before first scene of Act III in Handel’s beloved oratorio Solomon, it is now often played during wedding ceremonies as a processional that never fails to build energy and anticipation. It is, outside of his Messiah, one of Handel’s best known works.
Composed in a few days when he was 18 years old, La cambiale di matrimonio was Rossini’s first professional opera and very much still written in the classical style that was still present at the beginning of the 19th century . The scintillating overture to this work was written when he was a student at the Liceo Musicale in Bologna. It is strong enough in its own right that it has become an important part of the modern concert repertoire and provides a glimpse of Rossini’s early genius.
Frederik Delius is perhaps not a household name, but his On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring is an acknowledged English romantic masterpiece and a breath of fresh air that evokes the hope of Spring. The piece opens with a slow three-bar sequence; its first theme is an exchange of cuckoo calls, first for oboe, then for divided strings. The second theme is scored for first violins, and is taken from a Norwegian folk song, “In Ola Valley”, which was shared with Delius the Australian composer and folk-song arranger Percy Grainger. The clarinet returns with the cuckoo calls before the piece ends in pastoral fashion.
Tonight is arguably one of the most important love duets written in the 20th century. Taken from Leonard Bernstein’s hit music musical West Side Story, it is written for the two protagonists Tony and Maria and sung while Tony visits Maria on the fire escape outside her apartment. West Side Story is a modernized adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in 20th-century New York. The scene in which “Tonight” appears is the adaptation of Romeo and Juliet’s famous “balcony scene”.