The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Tea & Trumpets: Spanish Nights

Date and Venue Thursday, November 22, 2018 at 2pm | Orpheum Theatre

Conductor William Rowson Host Christopher Gaze

Program Chabrier’ España, Granados’ Goyescas: Intermezzo, Bizet’s Carmen Suite: Suite 1 No. 1 Prelude, Suite 1 No. 1a Aragonaise, Suite 1 No. 2 Intermezzo, Suite 1 No. 4 Dragons, Suite 2 No. 7 Habañera, Suite 2 No. 9 Song of the Toreador & Suite 2 Danse Bohème, De Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat Suite 2: The Miller’s Dance & El Amor Brujo: Ritual Fire Dance, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol

Reviewer John Jane


The second concert in this season’s Tea & Trumpets Series was a Spanish themed affair, though, in terms of authorship it was a fairly eclectic program that included composers from France, Russia and of course, Spain.

Maestro William Rowson led the orchestra in the instantly recognisable joie de vivre España, sometimes subtitled rhapsody for orchestra by French composer Emmanuel Chabrier. The piece has an audacious energy with an upbeat tempo giving way to delicate strings before ambushing the listener with a final onslaught from the brass section.

Enrique Granados was arguably as famous for his magnificent handlebar moustache as his music. But if one is to hear only one of his compositions, one would naturally choose his chef-d'œuvre Goyescas inspired by the paintings of Francisco Goya. The Intermezzo is a wonderfully moody tone poem, initially written to separate two operatic acts. In his introduction, host Christopher Gaze related the story of Granados’ tragic death attempting to rescue his wife after the ship on which he was sailing was attacked by a German U-boat.

Georges Bizet’s Carmen is one of the most beloved operas of all time. The tragic story of a sensuous gypsy girl and her ill-fated lover Don José has had opera-buffs flocking to opera houses since it was first performed in 1875. The Carmen Suites are orchestral music compiled posthumously by Ernest Guiraud. The orchestra made excerpts the featured work of the afternoon’s concert. From the solo flute in Suite 1 No. 2 Intermezzo to the intoxicating rhythms of Suite 2 No.11 Danse Bohème Maestro Rowson had the audience transfixed.

Next, we heard two compositions from Manuel De Falla. The first from his opera The Three-Cornered Hat which conveys the story of a magistrate infatuated with a miller's faithful wife and his vain attempts to seduce her. De Falla takes local folk music and turns it into serious choreography in The Miller’s Dance (Danza del molinero). The second piece from De Falla is the hypnotic Ritual Fire Dance (Danza ritual del fuego) from the ballet El Amor Brujo. The piece is easily recognised due to its gypsy inspired melody. I found that the enjoyment was not so much in the music itself, but in the performance.

The program ended with Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol. The instrumentation, timbre and ambience lend itself to more of a Russian compositional structure than Spanish. The piece features brief flawlessly detailed violin solos by concertmaster Nicholas Wright.

© 2018 John Jane