The French Connection


PSA's first Brunch and Concert is Sunday, Jan. 14. This weekend's concert has French and Russian accents.

On the program: Printemps, Claude Debussy; Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Jacques Ibert, performed by PSO principal flutist Lorna McGhee; Valses nobles et sentimentales, Maurice Ravel, and Suite from The Firebird, Igor Stravinsky.

According the Program Notes  by Dr. Richard Rodda, French composer Claude Debussy composed Printemps as fulfilment of a condition of winning the Prix de Rome, sponsored by the French Académie. Another condition was a three-year residency at the Villa Medici in Rome. Debussy hated Rome and the Villa Medici; the Académie hated the composition as submitted.

Jacques Ibert, the second French composer on this program, was expected to follow in the footsteps of his businessman father. Instead, Jacques studied music in secret. Gabriel Fauré was a teacher. Ibert interrupted his studies in WW I to serve in the French Navy, continued his studies after the war and in 1919 won the Prix de Rome, the requirements apparently causing him less dissatisfaction than Debussy experienced.

The Société Musicale Indépendante of Paris in 1911 presented a concert of new compositions with no names attached to encourage listeners to "evaluate what they heard." Ravel's anonymously presented work produced boos, though he was well known and had friends in the audience, and few of the audience identified Ravel as the composer.

Igor Stravinsky's premiere of The Firebird had a cool reception in St. Petersburg but in the audience was Serge Diaghlev, who  was forming his Ballet Russe, and was sufficiently impressed to approach Stravinsky for orchestral transcriptions of pieces by Chopin and Grieg. After the original composer for his ballet based on a Russian folk tale withdrew he engaged Stravinsky. The Firebird premiered in Paris to great acclaim in 1910.

Read Dr. Rodda's program notes (links above) from which this is drawn for a complete description of Sunday's music, make your brunch reservations, get your tickets if you do not already have them, and come join us Sunday..