Program 100
"Carnival Classics"

MUSIC: clip from Briccialdi Carnival of Venice performed by flutist James Galway with the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Charles Gerhardt [RCA Victor Red Seal BMG Classics 09026-68412-2, CD 1, track 5]

Welcome to Compact Discoveries.

The tune you just heard is probably the most famous piece ever inspired by a carnival. It is called Carnival of Venice. No one knows who wrote it, but plenty of composers have been inspired to write variations on this theme. We’ll hear from three of them in the next hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and our theme for this hour is “Carnival Classics.”

Stay with me and we’ll explore variations on the Carnival of Venice by Jean-Baptiste Arban, Guilio Briccialdi and Nicolò Paganini. After that we’ll listen to two interpretations of Bonfa’s Carnival of Rio. Then we’ll experience a musical Roman Carnival, thanks to Hector Berlioz, and we’ll conclude the hour with a Carnival of the Animals -- not the famous piece by Camille Saint-Saëns, but a much more recent, equally humorous collection by the British composer, Malcolm Arnold.

Let’s start with the music of Guilio Briccialdi. He was considered one of the best flutists of the 19th Century. He was born in Italy in 1818 and was raised in great poverty. With almost no money, he made his way some 40 miles from his native village to Rome, where he was rescued by a singer at the Sistine Chapel, who saw to it that Briccialdi had good teachers. At an early age Briccialdi won the diploma of the St. Cecilia Academy in Rome and in 1836, when he was only 18, he went to Naples to teach flute to the King’s brother, the Count of Syracuse.

Briccialdi composed many pieces for his instrument, including three concertos, duets for two flutes, fantasies, caprices, romances, songs, exercises and studies. We’ll hear his Carnival of Venice variations now as performed by flutist James Galway with the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Charles Gerhardt.

MUSIC: Briccialdi Carnival of Venice performed by flutist James Galway with the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Charles Gerhardt [RCA Victor Red Seal BMG Classics 09026-68412-2, CD 1, track 5]

Guilio Briccialdi’s variations on the traditional Italian song, Carnival of Venice. It was performed by flutist James Galway with the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Charles Gerhardt.

We are listening to “Carnival Classics” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

Next another set of variations on Carnival of Venice, this time by Nicolò Paganini. These variations are for the violin, as Paganini was certainly the most famous violinist of the 19th Century, if not of all time.
The violinist in this Bridge compact disc, recorded at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., is Zino Francescatti. Artur Balsam is the pianist.

MUSIC: Paganini: The Carnival of Venice, performed by violinist Zino Francescatti with pianist Artur Balsam [Bridge 9125, track 4]

Nicolo Paganini’s The Carnival of Venice. Zino Francescatti was the violinist and Artur Balsam the pianist in that Bridge compact disc which was recorded at the Library of Congress.

Before we move on to the Carnival of Rio, let’s listen to one more set of variations based on the Carnival of Venice theme. This is by Jean-Baptiste Arban and it is played by the Chuckerbutty Ocarina Quartet.

What, you might ask, is an ocarina? Good question. It is a wind instrument made in many shapes and sizes. It has been around for a long time -- thousands of years, in fact -- and for most of that time has been ignored by composers. Apart from little bits in pieces by Janacek, Respighi and Ligeti, the ocarina has been condemned to the unmusical wilderness inhabited by the kazoo, the penny whistle, the musical saw and the washboard, vilified and berated even by those few who know what it is.

Michael Copley, Director of the Chuckerbutty Ocarina Quartet, writes in his essay accompanying this CD, which is called “The Ocarina is No Trombone: “We ocarinistas have always subscribed to the theory that small is beautiful and that a lot of music is too long and played on instruments that are far too big.”

So here’s their interpretation of Jean-Baptiste Arban’s Carnival of Venice Variations from a Dorian CD.

MUSIC: Jean-Baptiste Arban: Carnival of Venice Variations, played by the Chuckerbutty Ocarina Quartet [Dorian DOR-93260, track 12]

Jean-Baptiste Arban’s Carnival of Venice Variations as performed by the Chuckerbutty Ocarina Quartet under the direction of Michael Copley.

I mentioned earlier that the ocarina is a wind instrument made in many shapes and sizes. It differs from flutes and recorders in that the pitch of the note does not depend on the length of the tube. The ocarina’s pitch is determined by the combined surface area of the open holes. This means that unlike other flutes in which finger holes have to be in a certain place to produce the right note, an ocarina’s finger holes can be placed virtually anywhere on the instrument as long as the player’s fingers can reach them. Then, too, the ocarina cannot play secondary harmonics, so its tone is pure.

The Chuckerbutty Ocarina Quartet is, not surprisingly, Great Britain’s only professional ocarina ensemble. The group, which was formed in 1981, is named after the Anglo-Indian musician Oliphant Chuckerbutty, an organist and composer remembered chiefly for his astonishingly ridiculous name.

Anyway, so much for ocarinas for now. You’ll hear more of their music if I ever carry out my threat to produce a Compact Discoveries hour devoted to unusual and neglected musical instruments.

We move next on this hour devoted to “Carnival Classics” from the Carnival of Venice to the Carnival of Rio. We’ll listen to two interpretations of Luiz Bonfa’s famous “Morning of the Carnival” from the film Black Orpheus, first as performed on the guitar by Graham Anthony Devine, then on the flute by Paula Robison.

MUSIC: Bonfa: Morning of the Carnival performed by guitarist Graham Anthony Devine [Naxos 8.557295, track 8] [3:22]

MUSIC: Bonfa: Manha da Carnaval performed by flutist Paula Robison [Omega OCD 3016, track 16] [2:45]

Luiz Bonfa’s Morning of the Carnival from the film Black Orpheus. It was performed first by guitarist Graham Anthony Devine on a Naxos compact disc, then by flutist Paula Robison on an Omega CD.

You are listening to “Carnival Classics” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide Fred Flaxman.

[optional break not included in the 58:00 total timing of the program]


From the Carnival of Venice and the Carnival of Rio we travel next to Rome and the famous Roman Carnival Overture by French composer Hector Berlioz.

The Roman Carnival Overture was composed in 1844 using material from Berlioz’s opera Benvenuto Cellini. Berlioz was probably trying to revive interest in this opera, which had failed miserably at the Paris Opera in 1838.
In this Deutsche Grammophon recording, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Lorin Maazel.

MUSIC: Berlioz: Le Carnaval Romain - Ouverture performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lorin Maazel [DGG 415 109-2, track 5] [8:38]

The Roman Carnival Overture
by Hector Berlioz performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lorin Maazel.

In this Compact Discoveries hour devoted to “Carnival Classics,” we have listened to musical interpretations of carnivals of Venice, Rio de Janiero and Rome. We’ll conclude with a Carnival of the Animals, but not, this time, the famous piece by that name composed by Camille Saint-Saëns. This time the music is by the British composer Malcolm Arnold.

This piece was written for one of the annual humorous Hoffnung Music Festivals on the South Bank of the Thames River in London. It was one of several works Malcolm Arnold wrote for these festivals. They included The United Nations, a riot of national anthems and marching bands; a Grand Concerto Gastronomique, scored for eater, waiter, food and orchestra; and the Leonora Overture No. 4, an unexpected addition to Beethoven’s three.

The Carnival of the Animals was written for the Hoffnung Memorial Concert in 1960, Gerard Hoffnung having died the previous year. It was conceived as a little supplement to the Saint-Saëns work, to include six zoological species which failed to make it into the Ark the first time around. I’ll identify them as each section begins. First, the giraffe.

MUSIC: Malcolm Arnold: “The Giraffe” from Carnival of the Animals, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley [Conifer Classics 75605 51240 2, track 5] [1:19]

Sheep

MUSIC:
Malcolm Arnold: “Sheep” from Carnival of the Animals, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley [Conifer Classics 75605 51240 2, track 6] [2:00]

Cows

MUSIC: Malcolm Arnold: “Cows” from Carnival of the Animals, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley [Conifer Classics 75605 51240 2, track 7] [1:24]

Mice

MUSIC: Malcolm Arnold: “Mice” from Carnival of the Animals, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley [Conifer Classics 75605 51240 2, track 8] [1:35]

Jumbo

MUSIC: Malcolm Arnold: “Jumbo” from Carnival of the Animals, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley [Conifer Classics 75605 51240 2, track 9] [2:01]

and finally, Chiroptera, with appropriate music for bats. Incidentally, I do not recommend turning up the volume on your radio for this section.

MUSIC: Malcolm Arnold: “Chiroptera” from Carnival of the Animals, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley [Conifer Classics 75605 51240 2, track 10] [0:26]

Malcolm Arnold’s Carnival of the Animals, performed on a Conifer Classics compact disc by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley.

MUSIC: Bonfa: Morning of the Carnival performed by guitarist Graham Anthony Devine [Naxos 8.557295, track 8] [under the following]

You have been listening to “Carnival Classics” for the last hour on Compact Discoveries.

This is Fred Flaxman hoping that you have enjoyed our selections and that you’ll let me hear from you. You can reach me in care of the Compact Discoveries website at www.compactdiscoveries.com. You can also use the website to view complete scripts for these programs, including information on every CD used. And you can stream this and other Compact Discoveries programs on demand at the Public Radio Exchange website, www.prx.org. 

Compact Discoveries is distributed via the Public Radio Exchange.

MUSIC
: ends at 57:07

ANNOUNCER: Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by Story Books, publishers of The Timeless Tales of Reginald Bretnor, selected and edited by Fred Flaxman. Samples and ordering available at www.bretnor.com. [0:15]

RECORDING ENDS at 57:22


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