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2.110242 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - SWITZERLAND: Mountains, Lakes, Waterfalls (NTSC)
A Musical Tour of Switzerland
From Grindelwald to the Jungfraujoch
Grindelwald, at a height of some 3375 feet, lies on a relatively sheltered sun-lit slope, with views of great mountains looming above, including the Wetterhorn, the Mättenberg and the Eiger. From Grindenwald the highest railway in Europe makes its gradual ascent, partly through a long, dimly lit tunnel, to the Eismeer station and then upwards to the Jungfraujoch, with extensive views. From here the Jungfrau glacier, with its crevasses and ice formations, can be seen. The ridge is known as The Sphinx, and is the site of an observatory to which a lift gives access.
Schubert’s Symphony in B minor was written in 1822 and remained unfinished, with two complete movements and a fragment of a scherzo. The reason for its incomplete state is unknown, although Schubert had a more realistic chance of the performance of small e-scale works at this time in his career. The manuscript was given to his friend Josef Hüttenbrenner as a present for the latter’s brother Anselm, in Graz. It was Anselm who arranged a piano duet version of the two movements, which he and his brother played together. The work only came to public attention through the conductor Johann Herbeck in 1865. The ominous principal theme is heard at the outset and is contrasted with a more cheerful second subject, proposed first by the cellos, material duly developed and heard in recapitulation.
[Recording (all works) by Michael Halász conducting the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, from Naxos 8.550145]
Lake Thun (Thuner See) • Trümmelbach Waterfalls • The Emmental
Magic cloud formations are seen over the mountains, lit by the setting sun. The melting snows of the Jungfrau and other peaks, contribute to the remarkable waterfalls of Trümmelbach, with water gushing out with force, providing a mist of spray as it drops down a cliff-face and a hidden power as it takes its turbulent course through caves. To this Lake Thun offers a tranquil contrast. It is nearly twelve miles long and over two miles wide at its broadest. Boats take visitors on a tour of the lake, passing houses, villages, churches and castles. The Emmental, famous for its cheese, provides fertile grazing for its cattle, a valley 25 miles in length.
The slow movement of the Unfinished Symphony starts with the descending plucked notes of the double basses before the upper strings state the first theme. The secondary theme of this movement in modified sonata-form is announced by the clarinet, over the throbbing syncopation of the strings.
French Switzerland: From Geneva to Aigle
There are four linguistic divisions in the Swiss Confederation, with over 18% of the population speaking French as a first language. Aigle, originally the Roman town of Aquileia, is in the centre of acres of vineyards. The medieval castle is now a museum exhibiting the traditional implements used in the making of wine, wine-presses and vats. Geneva, the economic capital of the French-speaking region, the Suisse Romande, is on the shores of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), which separates Switzerland from French Savoy. There are regular boat services on the water and as the boat passes there is a glimpse of the Musée Ariana, which takes its name from that of the mother of the original donor. Geneva is surrounded by vineyards.
Schubert wrote his Symphony No. 5 in B flat major in 1816 and it was given a private performance in October, a month after its completion, at the house of Otto Hatwig, a violinist in the Vienna Burgtheater Orchestra. The players involved were principally amateurs, who had generally met at the house of Schubert’s father. Schubert lacked the resources that had been available in one way or another to Haydn and to Mozart, and now to Beethoven. The first movement is in the tradition of Mozart and in tripartite sonata-form, an exposition with two main themes, a development and a recapitulation.
German Switzerland: Farmers on the Alps
Some 65% of the population of Switzerland have Swiss-German (Schweizerdeutsch) as a first language. Village festivals are held in farming areas, with cattle garlanded for the occasion, people in national dress, and musical accompaniment provided by the alphorns.
The slow movement of the symphony starts with a melody that has the appeal characteristic of a Schubert song. There is a contrasting central section before the theme returns in conclusion.
Italian Switzerland: Ascona and Bosco Gurin
Nearly 10% of the population of Switzerland have Italian as their first language and occupy an area adjacent to North Italy. Ascona is a resort on Lake Maggiore. It boasts a fine Church of SS. Pedro e Paulo, with an adjacent bell-tower. Nearby, on higher ground, is the picturesque village of Bosco Gurin, above which rises the Wandfluhhorn (Pizzo Biela).
The Minuet of Schubert’s Fifth Symphony is more of a scherzo than a dance movement. The Minuet frames a lilting trio in the contrasting key of G major.
Romansch Switzerland: Santa Maria and Swiss National Park, Zernez
Only 1% of the population speak Romansch, a language descending from what was once the popular country dialect of the Roman Empire. Following the Val Vau in the Romansch-speaking region, we come to the principal village of the area, Santa Maria, with its narrow streets, traditional painted houses and Gothic church. The Swiss National Park, an extensive nature reserve, is near Zernez and offers sanctuary for wild life, flora and fauna, covering an area of nearly ninety square miles.
The symphony ends with a sonata-form movement. The first subject is entrusted initially to the first violins, before being taken up by the flute, a procedure echoed when the second subject appears, after a transition. The central development duly leads to a recapitulation.
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