Monday, 28 November 2011

Frank Tapp Overture: Metropolis

I recently posted about Frank Tapp’s second prize-winning work in the Daily Telegraph ‘overture writing competition.’ I found the programme notes that were included in the BBC Promenade Concert where the work was given its first performance. The work is not available on CD (or record) but one lives in hope. Certainly it ‘sounds’ as it may be an interesting work, bearing in mind that contemporary critical commentary suggested that Tapp’s music tended to sound like Elgar. Perhaps we have another Cockaigne Overture on our hands? And there is a little more on Tapp still to come!

‘Metropolis’ is obviously inspired by the life of such a city as London and the opening, with its hint of St Martin’s bell, suggests early morning and the city’s awakening. After the first introduction, four horns with a declamatory entry foreshadow the main theme, and after working up to ‘forte’ and again dropping to pianissimo, the music grows in strength and speed to reach the main theme itself, allegro moderato. The upper strings have it first, a clear-cut, decisive theme in which the hearer will notice a characteristic drop of a fourth. Full of vitality, the movement carries on without a break in the same rhythm, until an espressivo episode is reached, quieter and more thoughtful. It leads to the second subject, begun meno mosso by the oboe; a quite definite second section of this subject follows, rising to a moderate climax, and then, in allegro the working out begins with the first subject, passing through various keys. The movement broadens; first and second subjects are heard in combination, and there is a quiet moment when the first and then the second are heard in 3-2 rhythm. A short section like a recitative, still on the two main subjects, leads gradually to a stretto, with the thematic material still the basis of the music; that works up to a big climax and a restatement of the second subject, varied in its presentation. A loud chord on the full orchestra begins a coda, in which both subjects are used contrapuntally, and with a reminder of the bell effect from the opening, the overture closes as though a carillon gathered up all the impression which the music has set forth. D.M.C.
BBC Promenade Concerts (with minor edits)

No comments: