Sunday Classics: Flute-and-Harp Week, part 1 -- in which we somehow hear Bizet's "Toreadors"
Claudio Abbado conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in the ever-familiar and ever-rousing Prelude to Bizet's Carmen, known in the Carmen Suite No. 1 as "The Toreadors." (We've got an uncommonly fine performance coming up in the click-through. UPDATE: Actually, two uncommonly fine, and very different, performances upcoming.)
How we arrived at the Carmen Prelude should be clear, or clearish, by the time we're done tonight. In fact, this post -- which started out life as a normal Friday-night preview and swelled into "part 1" of a pair of Flute-and-Harp Week posts -- turns out to be a festival of digressions. For just a moment, at least, let's try to focus.
AS SOME OF YOU WILL RECALL, WE RECENTLY HEARD
DEBUSSY'S SONATA FOR FLUTE, VIOLA, AND HARP
It was one of the Debussy works we listened to in connection with the panel of Debussy choosers polled by BBC Music Magazine as part of its celebration of the composer's 150th birthday -- chosen specifically by flutist Emmanuel Pahud. As I noted, this combination of flute and harp has a considerable history, and for that matter present, encompassing both works written for this combination, especially by French composers, and seemingly endless works arranged for it. Think of most any piece of music, and the odds are that some flute-and-harp duo somewhere has played it.
I can't say the flute-and-harp passion is one I've ever cultivated, but this seemed an appropriate time to poke at it a little. No, we're not going to do an exhaustive survey of the flute-and-harp literature Sunday, but we'll do something, and by way of preview I thought we could listen to two little pieces that i actually love -- both, as it happens, French.
Here's a first hearing of one of them, which as you'll see is going to occasion yet another digression. As I discovered while rooting out some biographical material on the performers, two of them embody a little story I can't resists sharing. We'll get to that too in the click-through.
BERLIOZ: L'Enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ), Op. 25: Part III, The Arrival in Saïs: Trio for Two Flutes and Harp (Performed by the young Ishmaelites)
Doriot Anthony Dwyer and James Pappoutsakis, flutes; Bernard Zighera, harp (Boston Symphony Orchestra); Charles Munch, cond. RCA/BMG, recorded Dec. 23-24, 1956
IN CONTRAST TO ALL OF TONIGHT'S DIGRESSIONS,
SUNDAY'S POST SHOULD BE A MODEL OF SIMPLICITY
As I explained, this post started out life as a simple preview, and I actually considered recasting just this much as its own preview-plus-main-post, but realized that it doesn't contain that much music! So it will have to stand as part 1 of a two-part post, with Sunday's part 2 remaining as planned. Since there's only one relatively compact work on the schedule, that post should be compensatorily streamlined and to the point. (Hey, it could happen!)
TO CONTINUE WITH TONIGHT'S DETOUR-RIDDLED
TREK TO FLUTE-AND-HARP WEEK, CLICK HERE