The concert conductor George Manahan was an extremely versatile personality with a very wide repertoire in music ranging from operas to concerts in both traditional and contemporary styles. Presently, he is the Music Director of the American Composers Orchestra and also for the Portland Opera. Manahan is also the recipient of the ‘Ditson Conductor’ Award in 2012. Another noteworthy thing about Manahan is that he has excellent leadership qualities which help him to have a good rapport with the orchestra, emoting with them and bringing out the best in their performances. He was also honored by American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) four times for his contribution to the field of music.
Chieh – Fan- Yiu, (viola) a Taiwanese born Canadian is one of the most enterprising young violinists on the music scene today. He is an extremely talented soloist who was the recipient of many awards and one of them being ‘The Stony Brook University Concerto Competition in 2012. Presently he is the featured soloist for the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra.
Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Scherzo a la Russe’, (1945) comprises of a pair of trio’s and a Scherzo and therefore has three contrasting sections whose march- like rhythm integrates well with lyrical themes. The energetic rhythm was created by the disruption of a regular pulse with accented off- beats, hence sounding march- like. The first trio was a combination of harp and piano that created a romantic mood. However, the second trio comprised of the 1943 sketches of the composer that was reminiscent of festive Russian Folk songs.
Edward Elgar, received international recognition for his “Enigma Variations” also called “Variations on an Original Theme for Orchestra, Op. 36. This musical piece is considered to be one of the best loved British works that took him to the forefront of British composers. This piece comprised of fourteen orchestral variations, each of which represented the portrait of a friend by the person’s general character and a specific attribute, which he captured in music.
The piece of this discussion is ‘Scherzo a la Russe’, (1945) by composer Igor Stravinsky whose meticulous knitted composition is interesting as it is appealing. The music begins in Allegretto punctuated with staccato notes to give it a March like tempo that is both vibrant and energetic. In sharp contrast to this is the second part of the piece that flows into a soft and slower rhythm from the piano while the background in this portion of the piece remains rather rhythmic in the Mezzo- piano (mp) style with a moderately paced tempo (Allegretto) followed by a couple of staccato notes and after by long drawn out notes, which were moderately loud (Mezz0-forte (mf) before shifting back to the first tempo comprising of a March- like tempo full of energy and vigor. This tempo gave a feeling of happiness and made the listener feel like dancing along with it. In this portion of the piece, the loud and soft musical sounds alternated with each other to lend expression to the piece and make it more meaningful. The staccato beats were interwoven with longer notes by different instruments, very skillfully by the composer which made the entire piece very appealing.
The next part of the piece had a lot of improvisation by various instruments such as the piano, trumpets etc. that included a sprinkling of trills that lends beauty to the piece. The tempo here was moderately fast paced and accentuated in places to lay emphasis in certain portions. In some places, soft playing of instruments were contrasted with loud playing to add color to the composition. The finale once again had the March like tempo which was highly rhythmic and joyful, making the piece complete.
In my opinion, Igor Stravinsky’s composition ‘Scherzo a la Russe’, (1945) was a masterpiece in itself as it was wholesome listening. I really liked the March- like portions because it was rhythmic and I felt like dancing too. The fast and slow tempos as well as the soft and loud notes complimented each other because they well so beautifully interwoven with each other, and which made listening to this piece really enjoyable tickets .
Edward Elgar, a composer of “Enigma Variations” also called “Variations on an Orignal Theme for Orchestra, Op. 36
Scherzo a la Russe (1945) was composed by Igor Stravinsky a composer of great repute.