Is it just me, or do you hardly ever hear Rossini overtures in concerts anymore?
At any rate, here’s a good one, the Overture to “Cenerentola” (“Cinderella), performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra and conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini.
The portrait to the right is of Rossini c. 1815, a year or two before “Cenerentola” had its premiere in early 1817. It was painted by Vincenzo Camuccini and resides in the Museo del Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Rossini was born in 1792, so he is in his mid 20s here.
Sonata form is a rich and complex subject, often considered beyond the understanding of all except well schooled musicians. But some of the basics are pretty easy to understand and, more important, hear.
First, there are three main sections in the sonata form. There is the Exposition, in which two or more themes are presented, in different keys. The Exposition is often repeated.
Then comes the Development section, in which musical elements of the Exposition are “developed” by various means, including through sequential repetition and harmonic instability.
The Development leads to the Recapitulation, which is a restatement of the Exposition, now all “resolved” into the home key. Usually a Coda of some kind caps off a sonata form movement. You can read more about sonata form here.
My intention here is merely to give you the timings in the recording below of where these things happen in the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1.
Before the Exposition begins, Beethoven gives us a slow introduction, a prelude.
The Exposition proper starts with the first theme at 1:20. The tempo is Allegro con brio.
The second theme arrives at 2:04.
The repeat of the Exposition begins at 3:14. It is a literal repeat of the entire Exposition, without the slow introduction.
The Development is launched at 5:10.
The Recapitulation happens at 6:32, with the second theme (now in the home key of C major) arriving at 7:05.
You will sense that the movement could end at 8:12, but at 8:13 Beethoven adds the Coda.
(After that, the recording includes the other three movements. Enjoy.)
Here’s your quick, mobile-friendly guide to December concerts at Pacific Symphony, with links to buy tickets online.
Estonian conductor Anu Tali, recently picked by The Washington Post as one of the top “Female conductors to watch,” makes her debut with the orchestra in a program of Czech and American music (Nov. 30; Dec. 1-2). Smetana’s cherished tone poem “The Moldau” opens the proceedings, and Dvorák’s powerful and undervalued Symphony No. 7 caps them. In between, Gershwin’s Concerto in F gets a ride with noted Chinese pianist Xiayin Wang in the solo seat. Tickets here
Then the holiday programming gets underway. First, there’s “Nutcracker for Kids!” on Dec. 2, a condensed version of the classic ballet featuring Festival Ballet Theatre, Pacific Symphony, conductor Roger Kalia and a visit from Santa Claus. Tickets here
The annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah” (Dec. 3) is this year led by a very special guest, conductor John Alexander, recently retired from Pacific Chorale after 45 years as its artistic director. He leads the Symphony, Chorale and soloists in a complete performance. Tickets here
Pacific Symphony will be in the pit at Segerstrom Hall for 13 performances of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” with American Ballet Theatre between Dec. 7 and Dec. 17. That’s a lot of sugar plums. Tickets here
The “Holiday Organ Spectacular” rumbles in Dec. 19. Todd Wilson, head of the Organ Department at The Cleveland Institute of Music, takes charge of the mammoth Gillespie Concert Organ and Symphony musicians Ben Smolen (flute), Elliott Moreau (bassoon and saxophone), Barry Perkins (trumpet), Mindy Ball (harp), Robert Slack (percussion) and Timothy Landauer (cello) make guest appearances. Tickets here
Finally, the multi-talented Seth MacFarlane arrives (Dec. 22-23) to sing holiday tunes and selections from the American Songbook, all in the cool style of the Rat Pack. Actor Gavin McLeod is also on hand for “The Night Before Christmas.” Richard Kaufman conducts. Tickets here