Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Turn of the 20th Century > Overture, "In the South (Alassio)". Op. 50. - Elgar
Overture, "In the South (Alassio)". Op. 50.
"In the overture under review, "conceived on a glorious spring day in the valley of Andorra," Elgar beautifully blends the joys of nature with the recollections of the past. The score has the motto: "A land which was the mightiest in its old command and is the loveliest; wherein were cast the men of Rome. Thou art the garden of the world."
The overture opens with a short, breezy theme given out by clarinet, horns, violins, and cellos to an accompaniment of the other strings and woodwinds. Other figures are developed from this and lead to a vigorous and exultant climax. Gradually the music grows more tranquil, and the woodwinds and muted strings engage in a pastoral dialogue, presenting the episode of "a shepherd with his flock and his home-made music." As it dies away the drums and double basses prepare for the entrance of the first sustained theme of the overture, the preceding ones having been fragmentary, which is given out in first violins and as solo for viola and cello. Another tranquil passage follows, the two forming, as it were, a sort of dreamy reverie, from which in the final working out we pass to the episode, "the relentless and domineering invading force of the ancient day and the strife and war of a later time." It is a strong tone picture of war and violence. As the tumult dies away, the episode changes to one of charming beauty -- the shepherd's melody for violin solo to the accompaniment of first violins divided into threes, four solo second violins and harps. The song is repeated in the first horn, passing to the violins and violas pianissimo throughout. Bits of other themes are woven in, after which the solo viola leads to the recapitulation, which closes this beautiful overture in an elaborate and joyous manner.