Prince Igor - Polovtsian Dances (Alexander Borodin)
Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin was a Russian Romantic composer and chemist of Georgian–Russian parentage. He was a member of the group of composers called The Five (or “The Mighty Handful”), who were dedicated to producing a specifically Russian kind of art music.He is best known for his symphonies, his two string quartets, and his opera Prince Igor. Music from Prince Igor and his string quartets was later adapted for the US musical Kismet.
Vltava, also known by its German name Die Moldau (or The Moldau), was composed between 20 November and 8 December 1874 and was premiered on 4 April 1875. It is about 12 minutes long, and is in the key of E minor.
In this piece, Smetana uses tone painting to evoke the sounds of one of Bohemia’s great rivers.In his own words:
The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer’s wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night’s moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John’s Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe (or Elbe, in German).
Barcarole - The Tales of Hoffman (Jaques Offenbach)
A barcarole (from French, also barcarolle; originally, Italian barcarola, from barca ‘boat’) is a folk song sung by Venetian gondoliers, or a piece of music composed in that style. In classical music, two of the most famous barcaroles are those by Jacques Offenbach, from his opera The Tales of Hoffmann and Frédéric Chopin’s Barcarole in F sharp major for solo piano.
A barcarole is characterized by a rhythm reminiscent of the gondolier’s stroke, almost invariably a moderate tempo 6/8 meter.