Rhapsodies Op. 45, No. 1
arranged by Tony Turrill
2Fl.; Fl./picc; 2Ob.;Cor; 2Cl.;Bass Cl./Cl; 2Bsn.;Contra; 2Hn
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Of the three Rhapsodies, the structure of this one is the most straightforward. There are two themes one in 6/4 one in 2/4 which alternate. The first is fundamentally peaceful although it has the capability in Dvorak’s hands of generating a range of emotions. When the second theme enters it is marked Alla Marcia and in fact is initially accompanied for a few bars by a march like rhythm but what soon follows can only be described as a wild dance. Underlying the whole piece is the rhythmic sequence that Beethoven and Churchill used so dramatically: in Beethoven’s case in his 5th symphony, in Churchill’s as the V for victory sign broadcast on the radio throughout the Second world war – three short notes followed by one long (morse code for V). In the Dvorak’s original this is first announced on the timpani. In this arrangement the second horn is used to provide this introduction of the “motto” before the three flutes play the first melody that in also picks up the “motto” rhythm.
As the melody develops the motto is occasionally used in the accompaniment. The music continues to grow until at bar 87 Dvorak marks the score Grandioso and in the next 20 bars of the double forte tutti the triplet motto rhythm frequently occurs in the melody or accompaniment and is always accented. The section finally comes to a peaceful end and the second theme enters marked alla Marcia but although it is just possible to imagine soldiers engaging in a quick march, the tempo is first increased briefly and then meno mosso before building to a presto tutti until at bar 311 the tempo slows down and the first theme re-emerges
At bar 330 the tempo accelerates abruptly and a third melody reminiscent of the second theme briefly appears before it leads to the whole ensemble. playing the climax of the rhapsody, marked grandioso, when both the main themes are interwoven and play simultaneously supported all the time by the motto rhythm in the bass This section is completed with ten bars in which the motto dominates completely being repeated eight times in unison against one bar drawn from the first theme. The second theme then interrupts initially marked piano allegro but again quickly followed by poco a poco cresc e stringendo . The tutti that follows is marked piano but presto and so it continues but although this is in 2/4 the motto rhythm is not far away, as the ensemble plays in 4 quavers to the bar and every fourth beat is marked with a heavy accent. The work builds to a climax before returning via a G.P. pause to the first theme
The music finally moves to a tranquillo in which the the motto again dominates being repeated ten times before leading to a peaceful conclusion and a final statement of the first theme.
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