Not to be missed is our third concert, comprising Mahler's stunning Seventh Symphony, written at the height of his success as conductor and composer, and exemplifying his famous quotation: ‘A symphony must be like the world; it must contain everything.’ The seventh is rightly reckoned rather enigmatic, but contains, after a funeral march, the exquisite 'night music' movements and a demented waltz of a scherzo, an exultant climax.
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.
Dvořák Cello Concerto in B minor
Soloist Daniel Benn
Raine Memories of a Dream
Nineteenth-century Romanticism is hugely to the fore for our second concert, kicking off with the Dvořák, the world's best-known and best-loved cello concerto, performed by the gifted young soloist Daniel Benn in memory of his grandfather, Tony Benn. After the interval the orchestra performs Brahms's Third Symphony, a masterpiece written in a mere four months, of which Clara Schumann wrote to Brahms on February 11, 1884: 'All the movements seem to be of one piece, one beat of the heart.'
Dvořák Cello Concerto - Allegro
Dvořák Cello Concerto - Adagio
Dvořák Cello Concerto - Finale
Jonathan Raine: Memories of a Dream
Brahms: Symphony No. 3
Introduction by Adrian Brown
Allegro con brio
Allegro – Un poco sostenuto
Our opening concert showcases outstanding British composition. From the light, jazzy Portsmouth Point, with its swaggering brass and pointed off-beats, to Walton's resonant, lyrical and eloquently full-throated viola concerto, featuring Caroline Harrison, principal viola of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the concert winds up with Elgar's immortal First Symphony, of which its first conductor, Hans Richter said to his orchestra, 'Let us rehearse the greatest symphony in modern times.'
We end our season with three very different works depicting Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Tchaikovsky’s sublime fantasy overture weaves the main themes of the story into twenty minutes of orchestral perfection. In West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein transplants the two doomed lovers to jazzy 1950’s New York. His Symphonic Dances leave the listener breathless as they are shamelessly bombarded with many of the twentieth century’s best tunes, including ‘Maria’, ‘America’ and ‘Cool.’ Berlioz was equally inspired, especially by his wife-to-be’s performance as Shakespeare’s Juliet. His ‘take’ on the work is bursting with harmonic imagination, fervent power, eloquent emotion and frustrated desire.
Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette
Bernstein: West Side Story
Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliette
Shostakovich Symphony No. 6
Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition
Shostakovich’s 6th symphony, conceived in the 1930s, is a very personal work, reflecting not only the suffocating oppression of the Stalinist era but also the resilient spirit of the composer, with the power of the first movement balanced by the defiant and even riotous flair of the following two. Mussorgsky’s famous Pictures at an Exhibition was composed within a single month for piano, and has never slipped from orchestral repertoire since Ravel (among others) arranged it and it is Ravel’s orchestration we will be playing. Listen to the spooky ‘Catacombs’, enjoy the gossip from ‘The Market of Limoges’ and thrill to the grandeur of the final ‘Great Gate of Kiev.’
If you think you know Haydn, come and hear Symphony No. 103 (‘The Drumroll’), one of the famous late symphonies composed when Haydn was the toast of London. Symphony No. 103 is one of his most interesting, being packed with originality, pathos and wit. Following this, we are extraordinarily fortunate to be joined by internationally-known singers Janice Watson, John Upperton and Oliver Gibbs to perform Act 1 of Die Walküre, the second part of Wagner’s famous ‘Ring’ cycle. Controversially, some of us think that this is the most enjoyable way of playing Wagner. See what you think!
Britten Violin Concerto
Soloist Mathieu van Bellen
Beethoven described his seventh symphony as ‘one of my best’, a view shared by audiences who demanded an encore of the second movement on its début performance. Wagner famously described it as ‘the apotheosis of the dance.’ Young Dutch virtuoso Mathieu van Bellen assists us to mark the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten with a performance of his violin concerto, which was inspired by Beethoven’s. Here economy of material is illuminated by virtuosic violin writing and scintillating use of orchestral tone colour. The brilliant overture to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg delivers the complete opera in miniature; all the main themes are there. We add the atmospheric prelude to Act 3 to launch a season celebrating the 200th anniversary of Wagner’s birth.
Khachaturian Violin concerto
Soloist Bernard Brook
The final concert of our season opens with the brilliant Festive Overture, a vivacious musical firework. Khachaturian's concerto is a magnificent whirlwind of powerful emotions and unbridled energy. The Pathétique is a complex mixture of emotions – sorrow, hope, and happiness tinged with a foreboding of despair – a mixture that has ensured its enduring popular appeal.
The Eighth Symphony is a monumental work, full of the composer’s characteristic ‘trade marks’ but taking them further than ever before: a mysterious opening, dramatic climaxes and contrasts, a lively dancing scherzo, a heartfelt slow movement – he believed it was his best one – and finally a very powerful finale which brings it all together in a glorious blaze of triumph.
Scherzo. Allegro moderato - Trio, langsam
Adagio. Feierlich langsam, doch nicht schleppend
Finale. Fierlich, nicht schnell
Mahler Rückert Lieder
Baritone Laurence Meikle
Suk’s Fairy Tale is a colourful suite of four movements drawn from music he wrote for a theatre piece. Mahler’s set of five songs, based on poems by Friedrich Rückert, share a mood of intimacy and quiet withdrawal. The Seventh Symphony, dramatic and darkly passionate and expressing the defiance of the underdog, is perhaps Dvořák’s greatest.