Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) was writing traditional grand opera at a time when his exact contemporary Richard Wagner was going down the radically different paths that led him to ‘music drama’, a conception of opera in which all its elements are fused into a seamless, integrated whole. Aida
, whose first performance took place in Cairo in 1871, post-dates by some twelve years the completion of Tristan und Isolde
. Its Grand March, heard here as arranged by Edwin Lemare and Christopher Herrick, is taken from Act II Scene 2, which is the stunning centrepiece of what must surely be one of the grandest of all Grand Operas. On-stage trumpets mark the return of Radames, the commander of the Egyptian army, triumphant after achieving victory over the Ethiopians, and the spectacle at this point includes both the victorious army and its captives. The march’s central section is based on one of the most famous of Verdian melodies: heard at first in A flat, Grandioso, its elevation to B major leads to the reprise and a splendid coda.
from notes by Relf Clark © 2010