Games of Skill, Games of Chance
22nd May 2015
When we need to take a break, there are always games. Whether the games they know take practice and thought, or winning is but a roll of the dice, composers bring them alive in operas, in colorful works for orchestra, and in chamber music: diversions depicted indoors or out and as spectators or participants. Enjoy this winning set of pieces chosen from across the genres in our catalogue. Opera:
A Hand of Bridge (1959)Two couples at their customary game of bridge fantasize during the game.
The Gamblers (1941) - available in the USA, Canada and Mexico only A card shark sets his sights on defrauding three hotel guests. He soon realizes that they are all brothers under the skin; the four decide to go after the other guests
The Mighty Casey (1953)The day of the big baseball game finds Centerville playing Mudville for the State championship. The great player Casey comes to bat for Mudville, which is behind in the bottom of the ninth.
Solitaire (Ballet) (1956)'Solitaire' is danced to Arnold's Eight English Dances (1951) and two specially composed sequences, the Sarabande and the popular Polka. 'Solitaire' was Kenneth MacMillan's first Macmillan ballet to enter London City Ballet’s repertoire.
Checkmate: Concert Suite (1937)Bliss chose the game of chess as the subject for his ballet and wrote his own scenario. It was choreographed by Dame Ninette de Valois &mfash; who knew nothing about chess so Bliss had to explain the rules and show the characteristic moves of the pieces.
BEN-HUR, A Tale of the Christ - MGM's silent classic film (2009)"Copeland's brave new work faces perhaps unjust comparison to the long history of this classic work, dating back to the novel by Gen. Lew Wallace…No one who experienced this evening can write it off as less than extraordinary."
— Mal Vincent, The Virginian-Pilot
Flourishes and Galop (1983) (1988)A delightful evocation of horses and a good old American horserace.
Charles Ives, ed. Sinclair
Yale-Princeton Football Game (1898)On November 20, 1897, the Princeton Tigers fell in a bitter 6-0 defeat to the Yale Bulldogs. Ives' musical portrait presents the pre-game and post-game clamor, the referee's whistle, the crowd's singing and cheering, and the most spectacular highlights of the action itself (notably Bulldog quarterback Charles deSaulles' zig-zag down the field).
Peter Maxwell Davies
Mavis in Las Vegas (1996)The (over) bright lights of the desert Babylon tempt the composer to his most glittering colours, involving a large percussion section and some incandescent orchestral effects, but it is the sounds of big-band and big-country America which he is most intent on evoking, featuring snapshots of a garish gambling hall, a chapel on the 'Strip,' the Liberace museum, city lights seen from the desert and — in an exuberant finale — Las Vegas's synthetic volcano in full eruption.
Parade of the Charioteers from 'Ben Hur' (1959)Rozsa captures the essence of chariots, triumphal processions, and intendant battles with this music from the great 1959 film by William Wyler.
Gambit (1998)"Gambit is, as the name suggests, a shortish work for a large symphony orchestra of overture character…Some harmonic progressions as well as the persistent minor third figure in the introduction are deliberate, free quotations from Magnus Lindberg's music. I have dedicated Gambit to this talented friend of mine as an homage on his fortieth birthday."
— Esa-Pekka Salonen
Alfred Schnittke, ed. Strobel
Sport, Sport, Sport (1970) - available in the USA, Canada and Mexico only Suite from the film soundtrack.
Jeu de cartes (1936) - available in the USA only The characters in this ballet are the cards in a game of poker on the green baize table of a gaming house. At each deal the hands are complicated by the endless guiles of the perfidious Joker, who believes himself invincible because of his ability to become any desired card.
Vangelis, arr. Pasatieri
'Chariots of Fire': ThemeFrom the film's soundtrack.
Divertissement (Charge Suite)The world-renowned anthem to the Olympic games.
Circus Maximus (Symphony No. 3) (2004) "The Latin words, understandable in English, convey an energy and power by themselves. But the Circus Maximus of ancient Rome was a real place — the largest arena in the world. 300,000 spectators were entertained by chariot races, hunts, and battles. The Roman need for grander and wilder amusement grew as its empire declined."
— John Corigliano
Scrunch (2001) - Piano "Composed in 2000-2001 and described by the composer as essentially a jeu d’esprit, Scrunch is a dizzying toccata with jazzy rhythmic interplay. Its middle section contains a succession of oddly fanciful episodes, amounting to a thrilling experience for the performer and listener alike."
— Tamami Honma
Big Sky (2000) - Piano Trio "This slow seven-minute trio for violin, cello and piano was intended as a companion piece to a short and fast trio entitled And…They're Off!…The common subject of these two works is horses — namely race horses."
— Joan Tower
Playing Away (1993)
The Great American Bicycle Race (1983)
Robert Xavier Rodríguez
Musical Dice Game (2005) - String Orchestra
Chorus and Orchestra/Ensemble:
Play Ball! (Casey at the Bat) (2000)
Casey at the Bat, A Baseball Cantata (1976)
Beckham Crosses, Nyman Scores (2002) - String Quartet
Robert Xavier Rodríguez
Gambits - Six Chess Pieces (2001) - Horn and Piano
Augusta Read Thomas
jeu d'esprit, a fanfare (2010) - Pair of Brass
jeu d'esprit, a fanfare (2010) - Pair of Woodwinds
And…They’re Off (1997) - Piano Trio
Phonotope 1 (2001) - String Quartet