Our theme for this concert is the sea in all its moods. The ‘Sea Interludes’ and ‘La Mer’ are well known concert favourites and make attractive partners for Chausson’s evocative ‘Poème’ and Bridge’s orchestral suite, which Britten heard as a boy of 10 and was “knocked sideways” by what he heard. Bridge subsequently became Britten’s teacher and profoundly influenced his musical development.
Elgar’s most luxuriant and expansive concert overture shows his facility with music on both the grandest scale and the most intimate. Strauss’s final completed work deals with death, but with a wonderful sense of calm acceptance, and features soaring melodies for the soloist against full orchestra. Dvořák’s symphony has a warm and optimistic tone, full of tunes inspired by the Bohemian folk music that he loved.
Wagner Prelude and Liebestod from ‘Tristan and Isolde’
Elgar ‘Enigma’ Variations
Our season opens with this brilliant overture, full of imaginative orchestral colour, vitality and melody. The Bruch concerto, justifiably one of the most popular in the orchestral repertoire is followed by Wagner’s powerful picture of doomed love, death and ultimately transfiguration. We end with Elgar’s well known portrait of “my friends pictured within” which was the piece which really secured his international reputation.
Berlioz – Overture to ‘Benvenuto Cellini’
Bruch – Violin Concerto
Wagner – Prelude and Liebestod from ‘Tristan and Isolde’
Mozart Flute Concerto No.1 in G major Soloist Philip Rowson
Strauss ‘Till Eulenspiegel’
Schumann’s “Rhenish” is perhaps his brightest and most optimistic work. Its tunefulness and folk-like character quickly made it one of his greatest successes and its popularity has endured to the present day. Despite Mozart’s well known claim to dislike the flute, he wrote very well for it, including this delightful concerto. Strauss’s tone poem chronicles the misadventures and pranks of a mischievous German peasant folk-hero. We hear him upsetting market stalls, poking fun at the clergy, flirting with girls and mocking academics. But eventually he is captured and sentenced to death for blasphemy!
Mahler Symphony No.9 This intensely romantic symphony has long been regarded as Mahler’s swansong – his farewell to life. He had been told by his doctor that he had a fatal heart condition. The mystery of death had always preoccupied him, but now it was within sight. The music powerfully expresses his torment, but also affirms his unquenched belief in life. The symphony follows the pattern of Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique”, ending with an impassioned slow movement.
This programme burns with Mediterranean heat and passion, opening with an exuberant overture, one of Berlioz’s most popular works. Ravel’s Spanish “Rapsodie” has three short movements of sensuous colour and elegance and a dazzling finale. Staying in Spain, the Rodrigo is perhaps the most well known of all guitar concertos, especially its evocative slow movement. Respighi said that “Roman Festivals”, his vivid celebration of ancient Rome, represented his absolute peak of orchestral sonority and colour. It’s certainly that!
In a programme of romantic Russian music, what could be more romantic than this lovely concerto, familar even to non-classical music lovers through its use in the classic film “Brief Encounter”? Before that,”Hamlet” captures the many moods of the Bard’s great play. In Rimsky-Korsakov’s colourful suite, based on the age-old “Tales of 1001 Nights”, the solo violin represents Scheherazade as she tells a series of enthralling stories that will spare her life.
We ran a day’s workshop on Richard Strauss’s epic ‘Alpine Symphony’ at Bishop Justus School. Given its scale and complex scoring, this was not a work that we could ever afford to include in a concert performance, but this was a wonderful opportunity to play this Strauss masterpiece. We spent the day working on it with Adrian before an informal performance in the early evening, which was open to the public.
Adrian introduced the work at 5.50pm, followed by an informal performance at about 6.10pm(ending around 7pm).
The session was free, but donations were welcome; no tickets were issued.
Holst ‘The Planets’ Suite with the choir of Newstead Woods School
Bax’s tone poem dramatically portrays the Cornish castle, high above rocks, battered by the waves. Its Celtic flavour hints at the legend of King Arthur. Sir Malcolm Arnold was a prolific composer, who wrote in many genres including music for over 100 films, winning an Oscar for ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ and an Ivor Novello Award for ‘Inn of the Sixth Happiness’. Holst’s ‘Planets’ Suite was described by him as ‘a series of mood pictures’, and is based on astrological ideas. It uses a huge orchestra, sometimes with enormous power and sometimes with extreme delicacy, making a splendid sonic spectacular conclusion to our season.