Bizet: Farandole from L’Arlésienne

Farandole is the finale of Georges Bizet’s L'Arlésienne Suite No. 2, composed as incidental music to Alphonse Daudet’s play of the same name (“The Girl from Arles”). The play, a tragicomedy, is set in a small village in southeastern France and focuses on Fréderi, a young peasant who is driven to suicide after discovering the infidelity of his bride to be (L'Arlésienne).

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Luke Smith
Seuss: How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! has been a holiday classic since its publication in 1957. Written in rhymed verse and illustrated by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel (1904-1991), the story follows the Grinch, a grouchy, solitary creature who attempts to put an end to Christmas by stealing Christmas-themed items from the homes of the nearby town Whoville on Christmas Eve.

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Luke Smith
Anderson: A Christmas Festival

Famous for his “concert music with a pop quality” (his own words), Leroy Anderson (1908-1975) possessed not merely a skill in technique and a rich melodic gift, but also an engaging sense of humor.

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Luke Smith
Matthews: Pluto, The Renewer

Although I might have had a passing annoyance for Pluto’s unjust omission, it seemed to really irk Kent Nagano, who commissioned Colin Matthews to write a movement to append to The Planets.

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Luke Smith
Holst: The Planets, Op. 32

The Planets’ popularity lies within its expressive punch. Dramatic power lies on its surface and can be understood viscerally after but a single hearing. The Planets is direct.

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Luke Smith
Sibelius: Karelia Suite

The work was well received by the audience. In a letter to his brother, Christian, Sibelius wrote, “You couldn't hear a single note of the music — everyone was on their feet cheering and clapping.”

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Luke Smith
Respighi: Pines of Rome

Curiously, he found his new home, the Eternal City, rather much and even frightening for the country bumpkin from the Italian countryside. The grandeur and movement of the city, the architectural magnificence, the culture – all this was intimidating, and the hustle and bustle too distracting for his work.

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Luke Smith
Brahms: Violin Concerto

But with Brahms, one had to take the good with the bad. Brahms’ great friend, the Hungarian born violinist and conductor Joseph Joachim (1831-1907), to whom Brahms’ violin concerto is dedicated, famously said that, “Sitting next to Brahms is like sitting next to a barrel of gunpowder!”

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Luke Smith
Sibelius: Symphony No. 5

The symphony opens in an atmosphere of mysterious beauty. In the first movement, tempo molto moderato, one might imagine time-lapse photography of wildflowers unfolding in a vast landscape, or as Sibelius wrote, “I begin to see dimly the mountain I shall ascend. God opens His door for a moment and His orchestra plays the Fifth Symphony.”

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Elgar: Sea Pictures

Elgar did not need to have some unifying theme more than the sea itself in this work. His home audience knew the sea well and did not require an academic discussion to remind them how important it was for their way of life. Pure enjoyment of poetry on the sea set to music sufficed.  

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Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5

“A sacrifice to the bitch goddess of greed and nothing else. He had no success in the United States and Europe for several seasons, and his concerts in the Soviet Union were triumphs. When I saw him for the last time he was despondent about his material fate in France. He returned to the Soviet Union, and when he finally understood his position there it was too late.”

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Program NotesLuke Smith