Concordia Santa Fe’s Wind Orchestra presents “At the Museum,” a program featuring the latest wind arrangement of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
The 40-member ensemble will present this exciting new adaptation of the landmark work, along with Norman Dello Joio’s similarly-themed piece, Scenes from “The Louvre,” under the direction of guest conductor Steven Davis of the University of Missouri ― Kansas City Conservatory of Music.
Admission is free, with donations gratefully accepted at the door. Program starts at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 25, at St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art, 107 W. Palace Ave. Santa Fe.
Pictures at an Exhibition is Mussorgsky’s most famous piano composition, and has become further known through various orchestrations and arrangements produced by other musicians and composers, with Maurice Ravel’s arrangement being the most recorded and performed.
This latest arrangement for winds by Paul Lavender was commissioned by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, and premiered in 2012 to high acclaim. The work is a tribute to Mussorgsky’s friend and colleague Viktor Hartmann, an artist who died one year earlier.
Vladimir Stasov, an art critic who was a mutual friend and enthusiastic supporter of both the artist and composer, assembled a commemorative exhibit in St. Petersburg, and Mussorgsky’s frequent visits to the gallery were inspirational.
The music begins with a Promenade, a noble theme that represents the composer moving through the gallery, and that returns as transition material between several of the movements.
According to Stasov, Mussorgsky depicted himself “roving through the exhibition, now leisurely, now briskly in order to come close to a picture that had attracted his attention, and at times sadly, thinking of his departed friend.”
As the Promenade theme returns at various points during the work, it takes on different emotional qualities, reflecting the evolving feelings of the composer as he makes his way through the exhibit.
Mussorgsky based his musical material on drawings and watercolours by Hartmann produced mostly during the artist’s travels abroad. Locales include Poland, France and Italy; the final movement depicts an architectural design for the capital city of Ukraine.
Today most of the pictures from the Hartmann exhibition are lost, making it impossible to be sure in many cases which Hartmann works Mussorgsky had in mind.
However, surviving Hartmann works can be linked to the movements “Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks,” “Samuel Goldberg and Schmuyle,” “Catacombs,” “The Hut on Hen’s Legs (Baba-Yaga),” and “The Great Gate of Kiev.”
Scenes from “The Louvre” comes from a 1964 television documentary produced by NBC News called A Golden Prison: The Louvre, for which Norman Dello Joio provided the soundtrack.
The documentary tells the history of the Louvre and its world-class collection of art, which is in many ways inseparable from the history of France.
Dello Joio chose to use the music of Renaissance-era composers in his soundtrack in order to match the historical depth of the film. He collected the highlights of this Emmy-winning score into a five-movement suite for winds in 1965.
The first movement, Portals. is the title music from the documentary, and it consists entirely of Dello Joio’s original material, complete with strident rhythms and bold 20th-century harmony. The second movement, Children’s Gallery, never actually appears in the film.
It is a light-hearted theme and variations of Tielman Susato’s Ronde et Saltarelle. The stately third movement is based on themes by Louis XIV’s court composer, Jean Baptiste Lully, and is aptly titledThe Kings of France. Movement four, The Nativity Paintings, uses the medieval theme In Dulci Jubilo.
The Finale uses the Cestiliche Sonata of Vincenzo Albrici as its source material, to which Dello Joio adds his own harmonic flavor, particularly in the final passages of the piece.