Autumn Sounds 2020 - Programme 3
Duo Chagall and The Fingal Ensemble
DUO CHAGALL present the last of three programmes commemorating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth in December 1770, as part of their well-established classical music series Autumn Sounds. Marking the series' 10th anniversary, this 2020 edition would not have been possible without the generous and determined support of Fingal's Arts Office and the Baldoyle Community Forum, who assisted the series's directors Gillian Williams and Arun Rao throughout these precarious and challenging times.
This final programme brings together two major works from the violin repertoire: the Romances in G major and F Major, respectively Op.40 and Op.50, which Beethoven wrote for the celebrated violinist Schuppanzig around the same time as the Septet heard in Programme 1. It also offers a rare glimpse into Beethoven's much underrated vocal production with a small selection of Irish songs and one of the best arias from his lone opera Fidelio. The four songs are contained in the second publication of Beethoven's arrangements of Scottish and Irish Airs from 1812. They, along with over 150 other folk songs from Ireland, Britain and beyond, were commissioned by the wealthy Scotsman George Thomson over a period of ten years. Their scoring for piano, violin and cello was much in vogue at a time when amateur singers tended to perform in large, private salons and often required additional support for the rather tame-sounding pianofortes. Thomson, a close friend of the poet Robert Burns, initially approached the ageing Haydn but soon turned to Beethoven for these arrangements, their corresponding rendered almost impossible at times by the Napoleonic wars. After Burns's premature death in 1796, Thomson relied on friends and family to supply poems of somewhat inferior quality.
Most unusually, this Autumn Sounds performance features the guitar in lieu of a keyboard (as do some of Carl Maria von Weber's Lieder from the same period), and appropriately replaces the original texts with poems by Moore, Burns and James Kenney, in accordance with the scholarly view that Thomson's compromise, in order to avoid copyright infringements, should now be redressed. This 'revisiting' of Beethoven's Irish airs was the work of amateur singer and scholar Tomás O'Súilleabháin (1919-2012), and the object of a 3-CD recording undertaken by members of the DIT Conservatory faculty in 2013. The recording featured DUO CHAGALL in almost a third of the songs, but not 'The Small Birds Rejoice' by Burns and 'They Came from a Land Beyond the Sea' by Moore, which are here given their very first airing with both lyrics and string parts.The guitar also features in the set of 'Variations on One String' by famed virtuoso violinist Paganini on a theme from Rossini's opera 'Moses', but played on cello instead. Cellist Arun Rao added a couple of pyrotechnic highlights of his own, in the 'bravura' style indicated by Paganini. As well as the Romances, directed by Gillian Williams from the solo violin, the Fingal Ensemble presents a unique performance by mezzo-soprano Sharon Carty of the aria 'Abscheulicher!' ('literally 'Monster!') from Fidelio, the revised version of an opera Beethoven initially named after the female protagonist Leonora. In this complex number from Act 1, Leonora, disguised as a guard, vents her anger at the tyrant Pizarro who is holding her husband Florestan captive; when Pizarro orders that a grave be dug beneath the castle walls, she sings a prayer to the Star of Hope and bravely sets forth in her attempt to free him.'
Autumn Sounds 2020 will also be broadcast on Near FM at 2pm on Tuesday 10th, 17th & 24th November.
Join us on YouTube or Facebook at 7pm on 27 November for Programme 3.