Director of Music, Peter Davis, took to the keys on Wednesday to begin the new season of lunchtime recitals with a piano transcription of ballet music by Aaron Copland.
Rodeo was premiered in 1942 in New York, though it owes its conception to the world of the American Southwest. The music is saturated with American folksong, which makes playful allusions to the Saturday afternoon cowboy exhibitions of the Rodeo, as well as the square dances and waltzes which traditionally followed.
The performance began in impressive, virtuosic style with ‘Buckaroo Holiday’, in which the festival atmosphere of the ranch was brought to life with flying octaves and playful syncopation. This was in complete contrast to the following movement, ‘Coral Nocturne’, which, though lasting only a few minutes, seemed to evoke the extensive spaciousness of the Wild West landscape. ‘Saturday Night Waltz’ retained some of the introspection of the ‘Nocturne’, and allowed Mr Davis to reveal some of the most subtle, solo-orchestral timbres achievable on the piano.
As a blazing finale, we were treated to a ‘Hoe-Down’. This is the most well known music from the Ballet, and particularly to our current GCSE students, who know it as one of their set works! It was fascinating to hear this in the context of a piano arrangement rather than the familiar orchestral version, and as such, the pianist had many notes to play! American folksongs abounded in this final movement, and brought the suite to a thrilling conclusion.
Thank you, Mr Davis, for a wonderful first concert this year!