Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2008 by Fred Flaxman
 

  Program 141

"Fire & Smoke"


MUSIC:
Holst: opening of The Perfect Fool: Dance of Spirits of Fire, the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn [EMI CDM 7243 5 66934 2 5, track 4] [under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman. The theme for the next hour is “Fire and Smoke,” and I promise you some very hot music if you stay with me!

MUSIC: fades out

First let me tell you what’s cooking. We’ll begin with two well-known pieces of fire music: The Ritual Fire Dance from El amor brujo / Love the Magician by Manuel de Falla and the Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky.

Then we’ll boil up the Dance of Spirits of Fire from The Perfect Fool ballet by Gustav Holst. Following that we’ll conjure up Magic Fire Music from Die Walkure by Richard Wagner; then Richard Addinsell’s Fire Over England Suite.

After that it will be time for some smoke: first, a beautiful classical arrangement for piano and two violins of Jerome Kern’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by the contemporary Russian composer Igor Alexandrovich Frolov; then Smoke Rings sung by the Mills Brothers from a 1933 recording that has been cleaned up and reissued as part of a six-CD Mills Brothers collection.

The original version of Manuel de Falla’s El amor brujo was first performed in 1915. An orchestral adaptation was presented a year later by the Madrid Symphony Orchestra. A full decade after the original version, the definitive ballet was presented in Paris. De Falla later created a piano suite from this material. The very famous Ritual Fire Dance was particularly loved by pianist Arthur Rubinstein, who played it as an encore as often as he could get away with it.

There are many piano arrangements of the Ritual Fire Dance. The one we’re going to hear now was left unfinished by de Falla himself and contains a number of additional orchestral motifs which Daniel Ligorio, the pianist in this Naxos recording, tried to transcribe as closely as possible for solo piano.

MUSIC: De Falla: Ritual Fire Dance from El amor brujo performed by pianist Daniel Ligorio [Naxos 8.555065, track 14]

The young Spanish pianist Daniel Ligorio performed the Ritual Fire Dance from El amor brujo by Manuel de Falla.

You are listening to “Fire & Smoke” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

Next let’s listen to the 1919 revision of Igor Stravinsky’s suite from The Firebird. The original ballet premiered at the Paris Opera in 1910, and it was an immediate hit. The work made Stravinsky famous overnight, and rich and influential to the end of his days. The ballet was commissioned by Diaghilev. It called for a score that would follow nearly bar by bar the action of a scenario by Michel Fokine based on the Russian legend of the Firebird.

We’ll listen to a Reference compact disc recording by the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Eiji Oue.

MUSIC: Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite, performed by the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Eiji Oue [Reference RR-70CD, track 1] [20:16]

The Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Eiji Oue performed The Firebird Suite using Igor Stravinsky’s 1919 revision.

You are listening to “Fire & Smoke” on Compact Discoveries. I’m your fire chief, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute station break not included in the total timing for the program.]


Next some fiery music from Gustav Holst: “The Dance of Spirits of Fire” from his ballet The Perfect Fool.

The Perfect Fool was first performed at London’s Covent Garden in 1923. It was a failure as an opera. Audiences were baffled by the strangeness of the plot and confounded by Holst’s sense of humor. But the ballet music heard at the beginning of the opera took on an independent existence as a concert piece, and has become Holst’s second best-known work; the best-known, of course, being The Planets.

We’ll listen to the “Dance of Spirits of Fire” from The Perfect Fool as performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn on an EMI Classics compact disc.

MUSIC: Holst: The Perfect Fool: Dance of Spirits of Fire, the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn [EMI 7243 5 66934 2 5, track 4] [3:15]

The “Dance of Spirits of Fire” from The Perfect Fool by Gustav Holst as performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn.

Next on this hour devoted to “Fire & Smoke,” some Magic Fire Music by Richard Wagner. It is from his opera Die Walkure. In this recording the orchestration is by Leopold Stokowski, who conducts the Houston Symphony Orchestra from a 35 mm ultra analog Everest recording that has been reissued on compact disc.

MUSIC: Wagner: Die Walkure: Magic Fire Music, Houston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski [Everest EVC 9024, track 2] [4:40]

Wagner’s “Magic Fire Music” from his opera Die Walkure. Leopold Stokowski conducted the Houston Symphony Orchestra.

I have one more piece of “fire” music to offer you on this hour of “Fire & Smoke.” Then we’ll turn to the smoke. This is by the British composer Richard Addinsell. It is a suite called Fire Over England, which was derrived from a 1937 film score. The movie included Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Raymond Massey, and was a tale of the Spanish Armada. This Marco Polo recording is by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Alwyn.

MUSIC: Addinsell: Fire Over England Suite, BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Alwyn [Marco Polo 8.223732, track 12] [8:29]

Richard Addinsell’s Fire Over England Suite. The BBC Concert Orchestra was conducted by Kenneth Alwyn.

So much for “fire” music on this hour of “Fire & Smoke.” Now let’s get some healthy musical smoke in the room. We could have turned to Addinsell for this as well, since he wrote a piano concerto called The Smokey Mountains. But I think I’ll save that for a future hour devoted to “Mountain Music.”

For now let’s listen to a classical arrangement of Jerome Kern’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. It is called Dym -- D-Y-M -- and was made by the contemporary Russian composer Igor Alexandrovich Frolov, who was born in 1937. This Naxos recording features violinists Nicolas and Rudolf Joachim Koeckert along with pianist Kristina Miller.

In the program notes accompanying this CD by Anastasia Belina, she writes: “Frolov takes the first eight bars of the theme, develops it, and composes the middle section and the piano accompaniment. Here lyrical solo violin episodes alternate with the passionate violin duet, and the work concludes disappearing into nothingness, like a puff of smoke that vanishes into the air.”

MUSIC: Kern/Frolov: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes/Dym performed by violinists Nicolas and Rudolf Joachim Koeckert with pianist Kristina Miller. {Naxos 8.570583, track 5] [6:29]

Dym arranged by Igor Frolov from Jerome Kern’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Violinists Nicolas and Rudolf Joachim Koeckert were accompanied by pianist Kristina Miller.

I’m going to conclude this hour of “Fire & Smoke” with Smoke Rings by Gifford, Friml and Harbach. It is from a 1933 recording by a highly popular black vocal quartet of the period called The Mills Brothers.

The four brothers were all born in Piqua, Ohio, 25 miles north of Dayton. They produced more than 2,000 recordings that sold more than 50 million copies, garnering at least three dozen gold records. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. This compact disc recording is from Nostalgia Arts, which has put out six CDs filled with original Mills Brothers recordings.

MUSIC: Gifford, Friml and Harbach: Smoke Rings, sung by the Mills Brothers [Nostalgia Arts NOCD 3011, track 11 [2:52]

The Mills Brothers singing Smoke Rings brings this hour of “Fire & Smoke” on Compact Discoveries to a close. I hope you have enjoyed the music. This is Fred Flaxman thanking you for listening.

This Compact Discoveries program is a presentation of WPVM, Asheville, North Carolina, a broadcast service of the Mountain Area Information Network.

Program Ends at 58:00




 
  ©2008 Compact Discoveries