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2.110346 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - SICILY: Palermo / Erice / Segesta / Stromboli / Mt Etna (NTSC)
A Musical Visit to Sicily
Erice and Segesta
Among the most famous ancient monuments of Sicily is the Temple at Segesta, started in about 430 BC, but never finished. Its 36 Doric columns are well preserved. Erice, originally belonging to the indigenous Elymians, was colonized by Greek settlers, like much of Sicily and Southern Italy. It was destroyed by Carthage in the First Punic War and was held successively by the Saracens and then the Normans, both of whose presence is visible in castles. The Norman Castle is built on the site of a Temple of Venus.
Music Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 8 in C minor, Op 13, ‘Pathétique’ – I. Grave – Allegro di molto e con brio
In 1792 Beethoven arrived in Vienna, despatched there by the ruling Archbishop-Elector of Cologne from his native Bonn to study in the imperial capital with Haydn. At first Beethoven made his reputation as a composer and pianist, supported by leading members of the nobility. He wrote his Sonata Pathétique in 1798 and 1799, publishing it the following year with a dedication to his patron Prince Lichnowsky. The first movement starts with a dramatic introduction, fragments of which reappear to open the middle development section and the final part of the movement. A brilliant Allegro makes up the body of the movement, with a gentler second theme providing contrast with the stronger emotion of the first.
The landscape of Sicily is mountainous and has been subject to volcanic activity. Mount Etna, an active volcano, is a virtual symbol of the island.
Music Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 8 in C minor, Op 13, ‘Pathétique’ – II. Adagio cantabile
The slow movement of the sonata, in the contrasting key of A major, offers a principal theme well suited to Beethoven’s ability, as a pianist, to produce a singing tone.
Vulcanelli di Macalube • Casa di Pirandello, Kaos • Porto Empedocle
Mud bubbles up, evidence of continuing volcanic activity in the Vulcanelli di Macalube. The great Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello spent his infancy, childhood and adolescence near the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento, and is buried there in the grounds of his family home. His words are recorded on a carved stone, recalling the lonely pine-tree in a landscape of Saracen olives, where he might rest in contemplation: “…Una notte di giugno caddi come una lucciola sotto un gran pino solitario in una campagna d’olivi saraceni affacciata agli orli d’ un altipiano di argille azzurre sul mare africano”. Pirandello’s house contains memories of his time there, including a number of portrait photographs. Pirandello proclaimed himself a true son of Chaos, the dialect name of a nearby wood, so called by the people of Agrigento: “Io dunque son figlio del Caos; e non allegoricamente, ma in giusta realtà, perché son nato in una nostra campagna, che trovasi presso ad un intricato bosco, denominato, in forma dialettale, Càvusu dagli abitanti di Girgenti” (Girgenti was the Saracen name for Agrigento). Porto Empedocle is the port for Agrigento, its name recording the Greek philosopher Empedocles who died in 424 BC, a victim of Mount Etna.
Music Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 8 in C minor, Op 13, ‘Pathétique’ – III. Rondo: Allegro
The final Rondo was seemingly derived from sketches made much earlier for other purposes.
Gibellina Vecchia • Santa Margherita di Belice (Traces of the 1968 Earthquake)
Gibellina Vecchia was destroyed in the earthquake of 1968, its outlines later encased in concrete by the artist Alberto Burri. Santa Magherita di Belice, its former buildings dating largely from the early 17th century, when it was built on the orders of a Spanish nobleman, also suffered in the 1968 earthquake, to be left in ruins. It forms part of the subject of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel Il Gattopardo (The Leopard).
Music Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 14 in C sharp minor, ‘quasi una fantasia’, Op 27 No 2, ‘Moonlight’ – I. Adagio sostenuto
The popular title of Beethoven’s so-called Moonlight Sonata came from a comparison made by a later critic, who suggested that the first movement brought the image of moonlight over Lake Geneva. The form of the sonata, completed in 1801 and dedicated at the last minute to Beethoven’s young pupil, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, is unusual. It opens with the well-known slow movement from which it draws its nickname.
Pozzuoli (Italy): La Solfatara
La Solfatara is a dormant volcano in the Campi Flegrei near Naples. It is characterized by bubbles of mud and clouds of steam, its name derived from ‘sulphur’.
Music Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 14 in C sharp minor, ‘quasi una fantasia’, Op 27 No 2, ‘Moonlight’ – II. Allegretto
The second movement of the Moonlight Sonata is in the form of a scherzo and trio.
Palermo by night: Cathedral • Harbour • Piazza Pretoria • Piazza Bellini • Politeama Garibaldi
The capital of Sicily, Palermo, lies on the north coast of the island, of which it is the principal port. The Cathedral is an impressive building that has undergone various changes over the years, from its Romanesque origins. The Piazza Pretoria has a 16th-century Florentine fountain and distinctive statuary, with the Piazza Bellini nearby. The Teatro Politeama Garibaldi, the second theatre of Palermo, was built in the 1870s. It includes a triumphal arch in its façade, surmounted by a figure of Apollo and his four-horse chariot.
Music Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 14 in C sharp minor, ‘quasi una fantasia’, Op 27 No 2, ‘Moonlight’ – III. Presto agitato
The last movement offers a distinct contrast, with its display of virtuosity and contrasts of melody and dynamics.
Aeolian Islands (Isole Lipari): Vulcano and Stromboli
The Aeolian Islands take their name from Aeolus, the ancient god of the winds. Lying off the north coast of Sicily, the group consists of seventeen islands, seven of them inhabited. The Island of Vulcano has a large volcanic crater, while Stromboli, with its active volcano, was once thought to be the home of Aeolus.
Music Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 23 in F minor, Op 57, ‘Appassionata’ – I. Allegro assai
Beethoven considered the Appassionata Sonata to be among his best. Its popular title was not the invention of the composer. The sonata was completed in 1805, dedicated to the Countess of Brunswick and published in 1807. Its passionate first movement makes full use of the resources of the contemporary keyboard.
Palermo: Chiesa Santo Cataldo and La Martorana • Palazzo dei Normanni • Parco Indipendenza • Parco d’Orléans • Giardino Garibaldi • Mount Etna • Alcantara Gorge
The Church of St Cataldo is Byzantine, dating from the 12th century, and La Martorana, dating from the same period, is also known as Santa Maria del’Ammiraglio, after Georgios Antiochenos, grand admiral under the Norman King Roger I, its founder. The Via Vittorio Emanuele runs from the port, passing the Giardino Garibaldi, one of a number of reminders of Garibaldi’s capture of the city in 1860. The road continues, passing the Piazza Pretoria and the Cathedral. To the left is the Palazzo dei Normanni, formerly a royal palace and of Saracen origin, later adapted by the Normans during their period of dominance. Nearby is the Parco Orleans. The Piazza dell’Indipendenza has a park of its own, in the centre of the Piazza. The journey ends with glimpses of Mount Etna, the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. It remains an active volcano. The river Alcantara flows to the north of Mount Etna and the gorge, which plunges down some fifty feet, owes its formation to the volcanic lava of the region.
Music Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 23 in F minor, Op 57, ‘Appassionata’ – II. Andante con moto – III. Allegro ma non troppo – Presto
The second movement of the Appassionata Sonata offers a singing theme and a series of variations. Fiercely repeated chords, summoning attention, introduce the finale, which, with its great musical and technical demands, ushers in a new world
Jenő Jandó, piano [Naxos 8.550045]
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