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Classical Music

Music In The Making: French Inspirations

Featuring orchestral works by Berlioz and Ravel, with a Mendelssohn sonata for good measure.


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On this week’s episode of Music in the Making, we’re listening to a baroque-inspired cello sonata, book-ended by some great French orchestral works.

Shepherd School Symphony
Photo courtesy of the Shepherd School of Music.
Larry Rachleff conducts the Shepherd School Symphony.

Hector Berlioz – Roman Carnival Overture (1844)
Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra; Larry Rachleff, conductor
Stude Hall

Even though our first selection is titled as an “overture”, it is not explicitly taken from an opera or ballet. Instead it is a “concert overture”, written as a stand-alone concert piece. This overture was inspired by the carnival scenes in Berlioz’s opera “Benvenuto Cellini”, which led to the title of this overture. Check out the famous English horn solo as you listen to this performance!

Felix Mendelssohn – Cello Sonata No. 2 in D Major (1843)
Desmond Hoebig, cello; Jeewon Lee, piano
Duncan Recital Hall

Our next selection was written during a tumultuous period in Mendelssohn’s life; he had recently returned to Leipzig after a failed Berlin appointment, and he had discovered that his mother had recently passed away. Despite these disappointments, the early 1840’s were among the most productive years for the composer. In the midst of this period came his second cello sonata, which features a third movement that pays homage to Bach, especially his chorales.

Maurice Ravel – Suite No. 2 from Daphnis et Chloe (1913)
Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra; Larry Rachleff, conductor
Stude Hall

While Stravinsky was working with Diaghilev on compositions for the Ballet Russes, Ravel was also writing this next composition for the famous ballet company. However, Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe would be largely forgotten in history, as it was premiered shortly after Stravinsky’s ground-breaking Rite of Spring. Since Ravel’s composition contained some of his best orchestral writing, he then created two orchestral suites from the ballet. The second suite, which we listen to here, was created from the ballet’s final three numbers.

This episode originally aired Sunday, December 6th, 2015. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical 91.7.