In our Armistice Centenary concert, Brahms’ arresting Tragic Overture is followed by Butterworth’s nostalgically lyrical ‘A Shropshire Lad’, written in the shadow of WWI. Ravel’s jazzy and virtuosic Concerto for the Left Hand follows - commissioned by a pianist who lost an arm in the conflict. After the interval we present Elgar’s Second Symphony, composed, as he put it, ‘at fever heat’, one of his most impassioned, intense, and inspiring works.
Here are some programmes, recordings and videos of our performances. In addition, a complete list of every piece we have performed since 1960 is on the repertoire page in a sortable table.
Many of the sound recordings in the archive were recorded at the Institute of Sound Recording at the University of Surrey by a student on the Tonmeister course.
Some more pictures were taken at a rehearsal in 2014 by Anatol Bologan.
Roy Harris Symphony No 3
Holst Suite ‘The Planets’
Following Bernstein’s scintillatingly offbeat overture to Candide, we present an underrated masterpiece, Harris’ magnificently energetic, occasionally brooding yet always glorious (single-movement) Third Symphony. We follow this with the mercurial Holst's self-described ‘mood pictures’ – his Herculean tour de force, The Planets.
Bernstein Overture ‘Candide’
Roy Harris Symphony No 3
Holst Suite ‘The Planets’
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
Soloist Anna-Liisa Bezrodny
Smetana’s Bartered Bride overture is sheer orchestral effervescence - with a Slavic twist. Tchaikovsky’s eloquent violin concerto features prizewinning violinist Anna-Liisa Bezrodny on her Amati violin. The second half consists of one of Shostakovich’s quirky masterpieces, his 15th symphony. Side-swiped excerpts from William Tell in the first movement, evocative violin and cello solos and ghostly brass chorales in the second, plus a sardonic scherzo, are superseded by a finale echoing some of the most stirring moments from Wagner’s Ring and a sense of utter completion.
Nielsen Symphony No.3
Soloists Nicola Ihnatowicz and Oskar McCarthy
Vaughan Williams Oboe Concerto
Soloist Caroline Marwood
Nielsen’s 3rd Symphony (the ‘Espansiva’) is light and joyous – not ‘typical’ Nielsen at all. Its famous slow movement, which Nielsen himself described as a ‘landscape Andante,’ uses offstage solo voices to marvellous effect. Vaughan Williams then provides a virtuoso showpiece for principal oboist Caroline Marwood. A folk music-inspired pastorale is followed by a delicate minuet, while the finale is almost a perpetuum mobile – interrupted by some stunningly lyrical passages. The Rosenkavalier suite excerpts moments of Strauss’ greatest masterpiece, including the ‘Presentation of the Rose’ scene, and the most richly textured of the opera’s several waltzes. It concludes with the powerful trio for the Marschallin, Octavian and Sophie – and by the languorous final duet. Not to be missed!
Casals arr Brown ‘Song of the Birds’
Soloist Alice McVeigh
De Falla ‘Nights in the Garden of Spain’
Soloist Catherine Borner
Sexy, sassy and Latin American, Márquez’s Danzón No. 2 is followed by a Spanish folk miniature for solo cello and orchestra. Then we get into the meat of the concert. Debussy’s ‘Ibéria’ – impressionistic and evocative – reminds us of his comment: ‘Music is as boundless as the elements, the wind, the sky, the sea... ’ De Falla himself acknowledged Debussy’s achievement: ‘the intoxicating spell of Andalusian nights, the joyous strains of guitars and bandurrias, whirls in the air!’ De Falla’s own Nights in the Gardens of Spain follows (‘the most tragic and sorrowful of his works, expressing an intimate and passionate drama.’) Catherine Borner's piano solos are woven within a flamboyant orchestral texture. We conclude with Ravel’s iconic Boléro – by far his most famous work.(At its premiere, a woman furiously objected that Ravel must be mad. Ravel’s comment? ‘She has understood the piece!’) A barn-storming finale!
A good quality video of this concert exists (all 5 pieces, no announcements, 74 minutes approx), recorded in high definition using three cameras and edited by Chris Beston. DVDs (standard definition, £8) and Blu-ray discs (high definition, £12) are for sale in the foyer on concert days or can be ordered through our contact page.
Dukas suggested that his La Péri should evoke ‘translucent, dazzling enamel’ with hints of Persia. Debussy’s Spanish-inspired Rhapsody for saxophone and orchestra is followed by Brahms’ radiantly sunny, transcendently lyrical Second Symphony. See you there!
Schumann’s affirmatory Second Symphony precedes Mahler’s orient-inspired masterpiece, in which international artists Janice Watson and John Upperton take us on a journey from heroic energy through autumnal lament to a gloriously existential farewell.
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 30
Soloist Masa Tayama
Ireland’s vibrant London Overture is coupled with Rachmaninov’s rhapsodic and virtuosic Third Piano Concerto, starring Masa Tayama. Arthur Bliss’ exuberantly dashing ‘Colour’ symphony - one of the great British masterpieces of the 20th century - spins its magic in the second half.
Debussy: Danse sacrée et Danse profane
Harp soloist Elizabeth Scorah
Our French first concert opens with Berlioz’ mercurial and richly programmatic King Lear. Harpist Elizabeth Scorah features in Debussy’s dreamily evocative Danse sacrée et Danse profane, followed by Ravel’s masterpiece of which he wrote: ‘Sumptuous and subtle, I have created the Greece of my dreams.’
Soloist Martin Bunce
The final concert of this season features four short classics. In the first half, Prokofiev’s seventh symphony is teamed with Arutiunian’s dashing trumpet concerto - featuring our own trumpet principal, Martin Bunce. Afterwards, Borodin’s pint-sized tone poem ‘In the Steppes of Central Asia’ is followed by the careering fire, stirring drums and wild cannon of Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812’ Overture. See you there!