Gia Sastre & Carolyn Snyder-Menke, flutes
Denise Wright, piano
Antonio Vivaldi (1680-1743)
Concerto in C Major for Two Flutes, RV 533.
I. Allegro Molto
Il Cardellino (The Goldfinch), 1st mvt. from Concerto in D Major, op. 10, no. 3, RV 428
Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801)
Concerto in G Major for Two Flutes
Allegro -- Largo -- Rondo
Franz Doppler (1821-1883)
Andante and Rondo for Two Flutes and Piano, Op. 25
Léo Delibes (1836-1891)
Viens, Mallika, les lianes en fleurs (from Lakmé)
PROGRAM NOTES by Edward Lein, Music Librarian
Music historians often refer to the Venetian violin virtuoso Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) as the composer most representative of the mature Italian Baroque style, and in addition to sonatas and sacred choral music he wrote nearly four dozen operas and over 500 concertos. He was nicknamed il Prete Rosso ("The Red Priest") owing to his hair color and day job as music teacher in a church-run orphanage. As the composer of "The Four Seasons" Vivaldi wrote what have become among the most recognized violin concertos of any era, so it is perhaps surprising that after he died his music remained virtually unknown until the 20th Century. Of Vivaldi's 500+ concertos, the Concerto in C Major, RV 533 is the only one specifically for two transverse flutes (as opposed to the then more-common recorder). As with most of his other concertos, the first movement Allegro molto makes use of a ritornello (Italian for "refrain") in which the opening passage (for the full orchestra) appears several times in different keys, returning to the home key for the closing statement. The six concertos of Vivaldi's op. 10 (1728) were among the very first works for the transverse flute ever published. The subtitle for the third concerto, Il Cardellino (The Goldfinch), is one Vivaldi supplied himself, as the flute part is meant to suggest birdsong.
The Neapolitan Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801) gained international fame for his 60-plus operas, and for a time was ranked with Haydn and Mozart as the leading composers of the second half of the 18th century. His various appointments included maestro at the conservatory in Venice (ca. 1782), second organist at the royal chapel in Naples ( (1785), maestro di cappella at the Russian court in St. Petersburg (1787-91), and Kapellmeister at the court in Vienna (1791-93), where he composed his most famous comic opera, Il matrimonio segreto (The Secret Marriage). He then returned to the imperial court in Naples, enjoying huge successes with his stage productions while also continuing to compose instrumental music and sacred pieces. That all changed in 1799 after the army of the newly-formed French Republic tried to liberate Naples from its Bourbon master. Cimarosa became a vocal champion of their effort, so when the republicans were driven out he and his fellow liberals were imprisoned with a death sentence imposed. Cimarosa's international supporters interceded and his sentence was changed to banishment from Naples, but he died (among rumors of poisoning) before he could return to the Russian court. His Concerto for Two Flutes in G Major was among the first works he composed in 1793 after returning to Naples. The first movement Allegro is full of the boisterous good cheer one might expect from a master of the comic opera; the gentle duet of the second-movement Largo leads without pause into the Rondo finale.
Virtuoso flutist and composer (Albert) Franz Doppler (1821-1883) arranged and composed much music for two flutes specifically to play with his younger brother, Karl Doppler (1825-1900). Born in Lemberg, Poland (the present-day Lvov, Ukraine), the brothers gained fame touring Europe with their flute duo recitals, and both became prominent members of Hungarian orchestras. Karl eventually settled down as the Kapellmeister in Stuttgart (Germany), while Franz moved to Austria as conductor of the Vienna Court Opera. Early in their careers, the touring brothers apparently were quite the picture when they performed: the left-handed Karl held his flute "backwards" as it were, creating a mirror image of his right-handed brother as he stood opposite him. Franz was celebrated as a composer especially for his popular ballets, but today he is most remembered for his works that feature the flute. His often-recorded Andante and Rondo for Two Flutes and Piano, Op. 25 remains a favorite not only of flutists, but has been arranged for other combinations of soloists and also with orchestral accompaniment. The lyrical Andante (in A major) has a lively middle section (in A Minor). The concluding Rondo (so-called, but not your typical rondo), alternates an sprightly, elfin tune (in A minor) reminiscent of Mendelssohn with a more lyrical one, but finishes with a variation (in C major) without the usual return to the opening key center.
French composer Léo Delibes (1836-1891) began his professional life in 1853, having completed studies at the Paris Conservatory. Working as a rehearsal pianist and chorus master for operetta and opera productions, he spent a decade at the Théâtre Lyrique before moving up to the more prestigious Paris Opéra; in 1881 he would return to the Conservatory as a composition professor. In the meantime theater life obviously agreed with him, and he enjoyed a long string of successes at first composing light-hearted operettas similar to those by Offenbach. Delibes wrote over two dozen works for the stage, the best-known of which are the ballet Coppelia (1870), and the opera Lakmé (1883), from which Viens, Mallika, les lianes en fleurs (the Flower Duet) is universally known, thanks to British Airways using it in commercials since 1989.