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St. Joseph Pro Musica Concert
June 6, 1993
Mozart: Marriage of Figaro OvertureVilla-Lobos: Concerto for Guitar | Bach: Magnificat

Wolfgang A. Mozart (1756-1791)
Overture to "The Marriage of Figaro"
A sprightly overture made up of two themes--one brisk, the other lyrical--sets the mood for Mozart's four-act vivacious opera buffa. The original Beaumarchais satirical play on which the opera was based received a completely different emphasis at the hands of librettist Da Ponte and Mozart. Because of the original play's pointed attack on the decadent aristocracy of the day, it had been banned. However, when Mozart and Da Ponte promised to purge the play of political and social implications, they did receive permission from the emperor to proceed. The resulting masterpiece therefore became farce--reflecting the psychology of individuals--rather than social satire. The music is in turn sentimental then noble, poetic then mocking. The work has won a permenent place in the world of opera as perhaps the "perfect opera buffa."

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Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959)
Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra

Andantino e andante
Allegretto non troppo
Allegro preciso

Long regarded as Brazil's most important musical figure of the 20th century, Heitor Villa-Lobos is noted not only as a composer of more than 1000 works, but also for his tireless championship of quality music education for the masses and for young people. He received little orthodox musical instruction, but was a performer of skill on cello and guitar. His compositional idiom stems from intimate knowledge of Brazilian folk/popular music; his compositions are full of pseudo-folklore melodies of his own creation. As a young man Villa-Lobos explored original forms with a Brazilian flavor. At the age of 57, following enormous success in the United States, he returned to traditional compositional forms, often employing a virtuoso style, particularly in the concertos for solo instruments and orchestra.

Most of the concertos were commissioned by artists and foreign cultural organizations. They include works for piano, cello, harp, guitar and harmonica. The 1951 Concerto for Guitar, written for the legendary guitarist Andrés Segovia, was scored for chamber orchestra (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trombone, and strings. Segovia premiered in 1956 with the Houston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Villa-Lobos. The solo instrument in this three-movement work is generally rather subdued until an extended solo cadenza between the second and final movements where it deals with ornamentation and transmutation of the principal themes.

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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243

During Bach's tenure at Leipzig, it was customary to perform an elaborate Latin Magnificat at vespers on high days. One setting (BWV 243) has survived in two versions. The first, written in 1723, was set for Christmas, Bach having added four movements with Christmas texts to the original Magnificat. Around 1730, he revised the work, removing the Christmas movements, changing the key from E-flat to D, a key more suited for trumpets, and replacing the recorders with flutes. The final result, suitable for liturgical use at any season, is one of Bach's most joyous works, compact in structure, and exuding the same optimism as is found in his Brandenburg Concertos.

The brief movements (lasting an average of three minutes each) feature a five-part chorus, five soloists, and festival baroque orchestra (trumpets, timpani, woodwinds, strings, and organ). Full orchestra and chorus frame the work with the exuberant Magnificat and Gloria Patri. The intervening movements of solos, a duet, a trio, and other choruses exhibit some of Bach's finest displays of text painting.

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Program notes by Linda Mack. Copyright 1993.
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