Romance from Pohadka
arranged by Tony Turrill for cor anglais in a wind decette
Solo Viola and 2Fl./1Ob./2Cl../2Bsn./2Hn.
click here for some excerpts
here for a complete performance
Suk was born in Krecovice, Czechoslovakia, in 1874, the son of the village schoolmaster and organist. He studied the violin and composition at Prague Conservatory from 1885 to 1892, where he became the favourite pupil, a family friend and later son-in-law of Antonin Dvorak
Suk never wrote an opera but the next best thing was his incidental music for a play based on a Slav fairy tale. Recognizing that it was unlikely that the play would be given repeat performances, Suk salvaged most of his music by producing a four movement orchestral suite, Pohadka. The work is a story of requited love and as its first performance dates from the same period, its generally sunny ambience reflects the happy year of the wedding of Suk and Otilka, Dvorak daughter. The violin melody is the motto theme which is assigned to Prince Raduz and Pricess Mahulena, the two lovers of the fairy story (Ein maerchen), Suk labels the movement “Lovely lady with the violin”. As in many fairy stories, when Raduz’s father the benevolent King dies, the lovers fall foul of the wicked Queen Mother Mahulena who turns her daughter into a poplar tree and destroys the prince’s memory. Love finally overcomes the spell, Raduz chops down the tree and releases the princess and the melody of the first movement returns. As well as teaching and composing, Suk was a violinist and played second violin in the renowned Ceske String quartet which dated from his student days. The first movement of the suite is basically a romance written for him to perform, for Violin and Orchestra.
In this arrangement, much of the score has been left unchanged, the solo violin part is exactly as written by Suk except it has been reset from violin via viola to cor anglais. This movement from the suite sits well with a wind decette. It was originally written for solo violin with an orchestra featuring the instruments of the decette. I originally intended to use a cor anglais to replace the violin. However this romance was one of my late wife’s favourite works and she made it very clear that to do so would put my marriage in danger. So I chose to risk using a viola rather than violin for three reasons. Firstly it enables the accompanying instruments to be placed in registers where they can play sotto voce with less danger of overcoming the solo instrument. Secondly simply because I love the depth of the sound of the viola that carries the lovers melody with appropriate passion and finally, perhaps most importantly so did my late wife.
Irene died in 2015 and I recently wondered whether my original intention might have produced a more balanced sound. With modern technology it was relatively easy to test this digitally. I immediately realised that my first choice was a good one, it suited the cor very well and probably has the advantage that regular wind decettes will often have one of their oboes who would welcome playing such a lovely melody. So I have decided to make the change
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make a note of the ref. no. NM2102; used with the composer and title it will help identify the work
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