Major composers in bold. Minor composers in roman.
|Violin I||Violin II||Viola||Cello|
|Anna Smith leader||William Hillman||Matthias Wiesner||Colin Alexander|
|Molly Cockburn||Gabriela Opacka||Matt Maguire||Philip Collingham|
|Rose Hinton||Anna Caban||Peter Mallinson||Sergio Serra Lopez|
|Alicia Berendse||Lucia D’Avanzo-Lewis||Marie de Bry||Solène Chevalier|
|Esther King-Smith||Clara Garde|
|Alix Lagasse||Jaga Klimaszewska||Double Bass|
|Jens Lynen||Dave Brown|
|Lyrit Milgram||Alice Kent|
|Jemma Freestone||Lydia Griffths||Rosemary Taylor||Gareth Humphreys|
|Francisco Gomez Ruiz||Matt Rainsford|
conducted by Nicholas Little
The Camilla George Quartet with Nicola Emmanuelle (vocals)
|Camilla George saxophone||Joe Armon Jones piano||Adam King bass||Femi Koleoso drums|
To hear more from this great Quartet go to www.camillageorge.com
For the website of the wonderful Nicola Emmanuelle see www.nicolaemmanuelle.com
Here are the first 100 photos. To see the full album on Facebook click here.
P.S. Tag away!
Click Spotify links for full playlists
The thread connecting all the beautiful works we shared with you at Hackney Town Hall is ephemeral: Romance. Romance, meaning love, adoration, beauty, in and of itself, without requiring to be anything more.
The Concert Playlist
However, in searching and putting together sumptuous pieces to share with you for our almost-Valentine’s event, an interesting connection emerged… Many of the works we were drawn to, that captured the spirit of romance in some way, were composed by Englishmen:
Gerald Finzi, William Walton, Edward Elgar and Henry Purcell.
This at first might seem a little strange as the English don’t exactly have a reputation for romance. “An inability to express their emotions” might be closer to the mark, especially uttered by one of their southern Mediterranean neighbours.
Perhaps, it is just that the emotions are buried deeper in the English. Through their composers, we gain a glimpse of the rich inner life we all share as human beings, that in the English can be quite hidden away and tucked out of sight.
Interestingly, between Purcell (1659-95), the earliest of these composers, and Edward Elgar (1857-1934), the next big fish to appear on the English and international music scenes, there is a veritable lack of star composers. 150 or so years of barren wasteland…
With Elgar and his peers (have a look at our Timeline of English composers on the following tab to get a sense of the landscape…) there is a flowering and overflowing of musical composition in England, that in some sense trumps even Germany at the time.
Finzi (1901-56) and Walton (1902-83) belong to the second or third wave of this flowering.
It is a fascinating question to ask: why the desert of 150 years or so between Purcell and the charge led by Elgar? What causes the deep oasis to finally bubble over and produce a lush green, textured garden?
Perhaps, however, that is a question best left for another time! Let’s begin with Gerald Finzi’s Romance.
Gerald Finzi (1901-56) Romance
Although perhaps undeservedly Finzi is not that well known, there is something incredibly beautiful about this romance for strings. By the time he wrote it in 1928, aged 27 and living in London, he had already suffered more loss than any person has a right to bear.
It all began with the death of his father when he was 8 years old and continued over the next 10 years with the deaths of his 3 brothers, as well as his music teacher. A boy who grew up surrounded by tragedy.
There is something in the Romance that speaks of having accepted this tragedy in his early life. The mixture of love and sorrow have created a beautiful backdrop for the music…
Other works of his that we’d like to share with you, both coincidentally featuring a soloist accompanied by strings, are his Eclogue for piano and strings and his Clarinet Concerto.
W A Mozart (1756-91) Eine kleine Nachtmusik – Minuet & Trio
If this programme were a delicious meal, Mozart would be the crisp, clean sorbet to cleanse the palette between dishes of a rich and heady nature.
He wrote this ‘Little Serenade’ in Vienna in 1787, some four years before his death at the age of just 35. Alas, we do not know the occasion the Serenade was written for, but it has the air of a piece written for entertainment rather than the expression of profound artistic thought.
The work has four movements of which the Minuet & Trio is the third.
A minuet was a French courtly dance, of a somewhat stately nature, that was very popular among the aristocrats between the mid-17th and late 18th centuries. It was adopted into instrumental music where it often functioned as a light contrast between movements of a more substantial nature.
The Trio is the central section of a minuet and usually has a gentler nature than its counterpart, as is the case here in the serenely floating section you can hear in the middle.
So the structure goes Minuet, Trio and then we return to the Minuet for one final play through.
On a personal note about the orchestra, this is our fifth concert and so far we haven’t missed one without including at least a little Mozart. It seems to have unwittingly become a bit of a tradition, though it might just be that we break the mold in our summer sizzler on 2 and 3 June at Oval Space… ; – )
William Walton (1902-83) Two Pieces from Henry V
I. Passacaglia: The Death of Falstaff
II. Touch her soft lips and part
It casts a gentle smile in our hearts that with these two beautiful miniatures drawn from William Walton’s score for Laurence Olivier’s 1944 film version of Shakespeare’s Henry V, we are able to celebrate not only Walton in some small way, but also in the same stroke pay homage to our finest poet-playwright, William Shakespeare, in 2016, the year that marks the 400th anniversary of his death. A happy co-incidence in our selection of these pieces!
So here, by way of a little Valentine’s treat we’d like to share with you a sonnet by Shakespeare.
Shakespeare – Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
The first of these miniatures, Passacaglia: The Death of Falstaff, somewhat unsurprisingly plays during the death of Falstaff! Falstaff is a major character in Henry IV Part I and Henry IV Part II but has very little to do in Henry V other than die! In the play he has no lines – his death is recounted through another character – but in the film Olivier adds a little spice with the voice of his king hanging in the air as his life draws to a close…
SCENE FROM ‘HENRY V’ (dir. L. Olivier)
INT. A BEDROOM AT “THE BOAR’S HEAD INN” – NIGHT
SLOW ZOOM TO REVEAL FALSTAFF, AN OLD MAN on his deathbed. HOSTESS QUICKLY, landlady of “The Boar’s Head” is tending to him.
HOSTESS QUICKLY exits leaving FALSTAFF alone. He sits up in bed and reminisces about his last encounter with KING HENRY V.
MUSIC ‘The Death of Falstaff’ (Walton) plays throughout softly.
God save thy Grace, King Hal; my royal Hal!
God save thee, my sweet boy!
My King! my Jove! I speak to thee, my heart!
KING HENRY V (v/o)
SLOW ZOOM on FALSTAFF’s face as he recalls KING HENRY’s words.
I know thee not, old man. Fall to thy prayers.
How ill white hairs become a fool and jester!
I have long dreamt of such a kind of man,
So surfeit-swell’d, so old, and so profane;
But being awak’d, I do despise my dream.
Reply not to me with a fool-born jest;
Presume not that I am the thing I was,
For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turn’d away my former self;
So will I those that kept me company.
FALSTAFF falls slowly back on his pillow and closes his eyes.
HOSTESS QUICKLY has re-entered the bedroom. C/U on HOSTESS QUICKLY looking at FALSTAFF’s face in repose as she raises one hand to her mouth in shock.
So what is a Passacaglia?
Well, in this context, it is essentially a form in which a continuous set of variations unfold over a ground bass.
So what is a ground bass?
Well, it is a musical sentence played in the bass which steadfastly repeats throughout the course of a composition providing a ground over which the other elements of the composition may vary. The ground is typically stated on its own at the start before other elements join in above it, as is the case in the Walton where it is introduced by the cellos and basses. As the music evolves the motif often leaves the bass to dwell in other higher parts for a time. Towards the end of the Walton the final statement of the ground is heard played by the 1st violins (high violins) and violas, for example.
Here is a cracking 12 minute example from the grand master himself, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), on whose ground Mozart, Beethoven and countless others built their achievements in the periods following on from his Passacaglia in C minor for organ BWV 582.
The mood of the Passacaglia is sombre, full of atmosphere and a heavy-laden pathos. Perhaps this is not what comes to mind when one thinks of romance. However, all is set right with the second miniature: Touch her soft lips and part, that in the film plays under the end of the scene when the soldiers bid farewell to their lady loves as they set out for France and glory.
As these musical moments from the film attest this is a stunning score, not to mention that it is a cracking film worth watching if you haven’t seen it. One of the things that strikingly stands out for me is the clear ringing voice of Laurence Olivier that permeates throughout with such power. It feels like it could cut through anything and be heard for miles around.
The score was, unsurprisingly, nominated for an Oscar but in the end did not win.
Walton Spitfire Prelude & Fugue
Another highlight from Walton’s substantial film-composing career that spanned 35 years and 14 films is the Spitfire Prelude and Fugue, a work that was plucked from his fabulous score for the film The First of the Few (1942), a story about the Battle of Britain.
Edward Elgar (1857-1934) Serenade for Strings
I: Allegretto piacevole (pleasantly flowing along)
II: Larghetto (somewhat slow)
III: Allegretto (flowing along)
Elgar emerged from the provinces, where he had been gradually and steadily honing his craft. At the turn of the century with his Enigma Variations (1899) the landscape of British music was changed forever. It is perhaps the most iconic and well-known of all English orchestral works at any time or place in history.
Another mature work of his that stands out with arresting feeling and beauty is his Cello Concerto (1919). The work soared to fame many years after its composition. In the 1960s the young English cellist Jacqueline du Pré made a recording that catapulted the work into the hearts and minds of the public. Jacqui, as she was popularly was known, tragically had a very short career.
And then there are Elgar’s five Pomp and Circumstance Marches (1901-30) which share something of the patriotic sound world of Walton’s Spitfire Prelude & Fugue.
The first march has gained lasting fame by virtue of being a fixture of the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.
By contrast, the Serenade for Strings (1892), is a more modest work written by a younger Elgar. It was the earliest of his works to become widely known and when he was older held a place in his heart as one of his favourite pieces. He also dedicated the version for piano (four hands) to his wife Alice, on the occasion of their third wedding anniversary.
If you enjoyed this Serenade, please do check out two of the masterpieces of the string orchestra repertoire: Tchaikovsky’s Serenade and Dvořák’s Serenade, both written a decade or so before Elgar’s.
Mozart Eine kleine Nachtmusik
W A Mozart (1756-91) Eine kleine Nachtmusik – Rondo
This is the finale from Mozart’s ‘Little Serenade’ from which we heard the Minuet & Trio earlier. We introduced this movement to create a little levity between works of a more substantial texture. Here is the whole work.
Henry Purcell (1659-95) Dido’s Lament from Dido and Aeneas, arranged by Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977)
It gives us enormous pleasure to share this work with you. In fact, when we first started considering what music to programme for this concert Dido’s Lament was one of the first pieces that sprang to mind. If you haven’t heard the original aria from the end of Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas, you must check it out! It is an achingly beautiful example of the lament of a broken heart…
Purcell Dido’s Lament (Original Version)
Our story begins with Dido, the widowed Queen of Carthage, entertaining Aeneas, a handsome Trojan prince who is taking a respite from his and his people’s wanderings.
Love ensues. However, due to the plans of an evil sorceress, who would see the death of Dido, all goes awry… She fakes a message from the god Mercury ordering Aeneas to continue on his journey. Aeneas then tells Dido he has to leave and after some bitter final words she dismisses him. She knows there is only one course of action for her to take.
She creates a funeral pyre and after singing her final lament, it is lit and she flings herself upon it, in the final hope that Aeneas, as he sails away, will see the flaming pyre and know what it means…
When I am laid in Earth, may my Wrongs create
No trouble in thy Breast.
Remember me, but ah!
Forget my Fate.
Dido’s aria is built on a similar structure to Walton’s Passacaglia, namely the ground bass. In this case, the ground descends sorrowfully by small steps, expressing Dido’s despair.
Bach arr. Stokowski Passacaglia
The presence of the ground, with its unchanging nature, as death approaches for both Falstaff and Dido, suggests that there is something in its the nature that lends itself well to expressing this moment of unadorned nakedness.
It could also well be that Walton drew his inspiration for Falstaff’s death directly from Dido’s Lament.
Leopold Stokowski was one of the brilliant conductors of the 20th century. Despite his name (his father was Polish), he was English. He was born and grew up in England and later moved to America where he achieved great fame.
He was also a passionate arranger of other people’s music, most notably Johann Sebastian Bach. Previously in these programme notes we shared with you Bach’s Passacaglia in C minor for organ. This is one of the works that Stokowski lovingly arranged for full orchestra to quite striking effect.
Leopold Stokowski Video
He also made this lush arrangement of Dido’s Lament, scored for strings only.
The video of him conducting his arrangement, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, is awe-inspiring. Towards the end you get a chance to see the maestro at work. The way he expresses and communicates the sound and shape of the music through his hands is truly something to behold…
Richard Wagner (1813-83) Siegfried Idyll
The Wagner is beautiful. It is full of a glowing warmth and harmony that perfectly express the sublime feelings of a man whose love for his new wife and their blissful life together is evident in every beat and measure.
On the morning of 25 December 1870, Cosima Wagner awoke to the sound of music playing outside her bedroom door… It was the day after her 33rd birthday, the day that Richard and she always celebrated it on. The setting is their home, named Tribschen, on the shores of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. They have been married just five months, though their hearts and lives have belonged to each other for some years.
Here is Cosima’s diary entry for that day:
Wagner Tristan and Isolde prelude
“When I woke up I heard a sound, it grew ever louder, I could no longer imagine myself in a dream, music was sounding, and what music! After it had died away, R. came in to me with the five children and put into my hands the score of his “symphonic birthday greeting.” I was in tears, but so, too, was the whole household; R. had set up his orchestra on the stairs and thus consecrated our Tribschen forever! The Tribschen Idyll—so the work is called . . .”
In fact Wagner’s full title was Tribschen Idyll with Fidi’s birdsong and the orange sunrise, a symphonic birthday greeting. Presented to his Cosima by her Richard.
Fidi was the nickname for their youngest child, Siegfried, born the year before. Wagner later simplified the title to Siegfried Idyll, a title perhaps more fitting for a public audience.
Wagner was primarily a composer of large-scale operas and interestingly all their children were named after characters from his operas. In this case Siegfried was named after the hero from his opera of the same name.
If you would like to dip your toe into this world, check out the instrumental opening of Tristan and Isolde, which tells the story of their ill-fated love.
By way of rounding off our journey into romanticism, coupled with our brief exploration into the world of English composers, here are some of the other beautiful works that didn’t quite make it into the programme:
Vaughan Williams Playlist
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1959) The Lark Ascending and Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis.
The best way to end is by returning to the beginning. Let’s go out with a bang! Here is a glorious work by Benjamin Britten, the most recent English composer we’ve mentioned. His A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is a brilliant set of variations based on a piece by Purcell. This piece runs through the different groups of the orchestra, exploring their characters and quirks, and finishes in a most glorious way.
Britten Young Person’s Guide
*K.525 = Catalogue reference!
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik translates as ‘A Little Serenade’.
Although Eine kleine, or the ‘Serenade No. 13 for strings’ as it is officially known, is not one of Mozart’s most profound works, it is certainly his most popular one, quite an achievement when placed against the symphonies, piano concertos, his opera The Marriage of Figaro and all the wonderful pieces you can hear excerpted in the film Amadeus. Why has the first movement in particular achieved the kind of fame which means that everyone seems to have heard it?
It’s a late work, written in Vienna in August 1787 when Mozart, at the age of 31, had only four more years to live, but the opening theme is full of youthful vigour, and perhaps that is a clue to its success. That and its distinctive, leaping character, full of the typical Mozartian zip and buzz that you often find in his opera overtures. And then there’s the courtly, super-elegant conversation between the upper and lower strings. Amadeus is not a bad visual analogue for the music: much frenetic activity as Mozart scurried around hawking his works – he was one of the first freelancers in music history – while bewigged courtiers observed the formalities of 18th century Vienna.
But back to its title: “a little night music” if translated literally. Mozart only called it that in his personal catalogue of his music. The title is not in the score itself. Yet that clue points to the composer thinking of it like one of those serenades played during the evening by small groups of musicians on the streets of Vienna, or perhaps at a soirée. A simple, outgoing piece with plenty of opportunity to hear the themes again if you missed them the first time.
*Op. 1 = Different catalogue reference!
The Scandinavian countries have collectively just a few composers of unassailable international reputation to put on their banknotes. Finland has Sibelius, Sweden – Berwald and Wirén, Norway has Grieg and Denmark Carl Nielsen. Nielsen is chiefly known these days for his magnificent series of six powerfully expressive and darkly dramatic symphonies but, a child prodigy, his career started brightly when he wrote the first work he was proud enough to acknowledge as his ‘Opus 1’, this Little Suite for Strings, as it is sometimes known, at the age of 22, in 1888. He had started work on it even earlier, originally intending it to be a string quintet. It was premiered at the prestigious Tivoli Hall in Copenhagen.
The first movement of the Suite (there are three contrasting movements in all) is perhaps not what you would expect from a young composer announcing himself on the scene. It begins in a somber, measured way, with a beautiful but subdued melody, first heard on the cellos, and gradually builds to an intense, fiercely dramatic climax, before dying away and breaking apart at the end. A considerable amount of drama and intensity packed into a mere three minutes!
*BWV 1043 = Yet another catalogue reference!
In the seven years from 1678 to 1685 the three masters of the Baroque were all born: Vivaldi, Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach. Of the over 1,000 pieces composed by Bach, most are for choir or organ and written for church use. Yet the relatively small number of concertos he wrote – where one or several solo instruments are pitted against a small orchestra – are among his most popular works. This concerto, in particular, is exquisite in its beauty.
Like Vivaldi, Bach was himself a violinist and led the court orchestra at Weimar in Germany in the mid-1710s. Perhaps inspired by Vivaldi’s copious output of concertos for one, two, three and even four violins (Bach even arranged a few for harpsichord and orchestra), Bach wrote a small number of concertos himself: the violin concertos in A minor and E major, the triple violin concerto and the double violin concerto. Each has achieved a deserved place in the repertoire.
Bach wrote the double concerto just after he had left the court in Weimar (and having completed a month in prison ‘for obstinacy’) to take up a new job working for the music-loving Prince Leopold of Cöthen. Not all composers were so lucky with their employers and in the early 18th century musicians were generally regarded as little better than tradesmen. It is believed that this double concerto was written for the leader (chief violinist) of the Cöthen orchestra, Joseph Spiess, and Martin Friedrich Marcus, another violinist from the orchestra.
Bach believed, according to his first biographer, that following intensive study of Vivaldi “all he required was perseverance and unrelenting practice to reach a point at which he could create for himself an artistic ideal and also in time attain it.”
What did Bach learn from Vivaldi? How to repeat sections of music so that they were pleasingly familiar but with enough variation and embellishment so that the repetitions were never dull; how the soloists could show off their skill through elaborating the themes set up by the orchestra, and how to write wonderful floating melodies over a bass accompaniment, as in the gorgeous middle movement of this concerto, which expresses a transcendent beauty.
However Bach’s writing is less extrovert than Vivaldi’s and more sophisticated in its nature. In the concerto everything has its perfect place, expressing beauty throughout in intwined, harmonious conversations between the two soloists, supported and embraced by the orchestra. At times playful, dramatic and exquisitely beautiful, Bach’s Double Violin Concerto remains one of the finest double concertos written to this day.
Unlike many American composers of his generation – he was born in Pennsylvania in 1910 – Samuel Barber never felt the need to embrace the musical changes taking place in Europe in the 1910s and 1920s, with an increasing drive towards dissonance. His teachers encouraged him to learn more from the musical traditions of the 19th century, with such composers as Beethoven or Brahms.
Like many of his works, his only string quartet, written in 1936, quickly found a place in the repertoire. The slow second movement was so profoundly moving and memorable that Barber was quick to arrange it for string orchestra the same year. He even arranged it for chorus with piano, adding a Latin religious text, in 1967.
It is in the string orchestra arrangement, however, that the work has achieved lasting fame, helped on its way by the first performance, broadcast live across America and conducted by Arturo Toscanini, who in 1938 was probably the world’s most famous superstar conductor.
Since then the Adagio has been played many times at the funerals of prominent figures, such as F.D. Roosevelt, J.F.K, Princess Grace of Monaco and Diana, Princess of Wales. It was used poignantly in the anti-war Platoon in 1986 and Leonard Slatkin conducted a particularly moving performance at the Proms in London in the wake of 9/11. Just last month 150 musicians gathered in Trafalgar Square to perform the work in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris.
Although Dag Wirén (pronounced ‘Dahg Vee-rehn’) had a long life, dying at the age of 80 in 1986, the Swedish composer is now only really known for this lovely serenade. His five symphonies, film music and even the song he wrote as Sweden’s entry in the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest – 6 points, 10th place – are largely unfamiliar to British audiences.
Wirén was born in 1905. He wrote this work in 1937, at the age of 32, as his composing career was just beginning to take off and war was threatening in Europe. Unlike some composers, whose musical reaction to the times was one of anxiety and doom, Wirén responded with levity. Even as war raged around him, he wrote music of a diverting nature, perhaps as a kind of refusal to be cowed by the grim mood of the times or to bring light into a dark situation.
Wiren was a massive fan of Mozart and in the Serenade you can hear something of the light, energetic nature of Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik, written some 150 years earlier, though in a more modern idiom. Each movement is characterised by a distinct and infectious rhythmic energy and Wirén’s gift for melody abounds throughout.
We hope you had a great evening!
Eunsley Park began her studies at the Yehudi Menuhin School, where she studied with Rosemary Warren-Green and Natasha Boyarsky. Eunsley now studies at the Royal College of Music as a postgraduate student of Itzhak Rashkovsky.
While at the RCM she has been an RCM “Rising Star”, and has won many awards including the MBF Postgraduate Performance Award, the Countess of Munster Award, the MMSF/Philharmonia Meyer Award, and the Albert Cooper Award. Other competition successes including 3rd prize in the Tunbridge Wells Young International Concert Artists Competition and Sevenoaks Young Musician Competition.
As a soloist she has recently performed with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra at the Philharmonic Hall of Warsaw. She has also performed concerti with the Guildford Symphony Orchestra and with the Romanian Radio Orchestra in Istanbul at the Mostly Mozart Festival. She has appeared as soloist at leading venues such as Wigmore Hall, Palacio des Festivales Cantabria, Polish Radio Lutoslawski Concert Hall, Konserthuset Stockholm, and in a televised concert from the Rachmaninov Hall in Moscow.
As an orchestral player she has performed in Switzerland at the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, and in Italy, working with maestros such as Paavo Jaarvi, Bernard Haitink, Thierry Fischer, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Vladimir Jurowski, and Edward Gardner. She has appeared at the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, Fairfield Halls and St. David’s Hall.
She plays on a Joseph Rocca violin, kindly supported by the Royal College of Music, London.
Sujin Park first began her violin studies with Alice Waten at the Australian Institute of Music as a scholarship holder on the Young Musicians Programme. After graduating from high school she put music on hold and studied law and business administration for two years. However her love of music drew her back to the violin and she then went on to study with Goetz Richter at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2009.
She has won numerous awards, notably 1st prize in the Dorcas McClean Travelling Scholarship Competition (2009), finalist and prize-winner in the Royal Overseas League Competition (2012), 1st prize of the Jeunesses International Violin Competition (2012), and semifinalist and winner of the 2-year loan of a modern Bergonzi violin at the Michael Hill International Violin Competition (2013). In 2012, she was also selected to take part in the London Symphony Orchestra String Experience Scheme.
Sujin received her BMus (Hons) with First Class Honours in 2013 at the Royal College of Music as an ABRSM Scholar. She is continuing her studies with Professor Itzhak Rashkovsky and is now completing her Master of Performance degree at the Royal College of Music as a Frederick Johnson Scholar supported by a Greenbank Award and the Lydia Napper Award.
Marta Kowalczyk Leader
Marie De Bry
Irene Ortega Albaladejo
Mozart – Symphony No. 29
Mozart completed his Symphony No. 29 in 1774. It is, along with Symphony No. 25, one of his better known early symphonies and really captures an elegant party atmosphere. A good opener for our first event!
Ponce – Concierto del sur
The Concierto del sur, ‘Concerto of the South’, is a classical guitar concerto that was completed by the Mexican composer Manuel María Ponce (1882-1948) in 1941. He wrote it for his good friend the Spanish guitarist, Andrés Segovia, who had been imploring him to write a concerto for many years (there are letters from Segovia to Ponce that date as far back as 1929 in which he refers to it!). One of the reasons Ponce took so long to complete it was because of the issue that the guitar is by nature a very quiet instrument, and so when you put it with an orchestra there is a danger that the guitar will be overpowered. Ponce’s eventual solution was to write for an intimate orchestra consisting of just one flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, a small string section and a delicately written timpani part (with a touch of tambourine in the final movement!). Manuel María Ponce was really Mexico’s first composer to take a deep and abiding interest in the folk music of his country. He infused his extensive classical training, having spent a number of years studying in Europe, with the spirit and flavour of both Mexico and Spain. This is strikingly evident in the guitar concerto, where from the opening bars you hear the rich, evocative sounds of an idealised Andalusia, where Andrés Segovia was from, and to which the title refers.
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1. WA Mozart – Divertimento K.136
2. Claude Debussy – Danse Sacrée et Danse Profane
3. Jonathan Dove – The Magic Flute Dances
4. Claude Debussy – Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
5. Felix Mendelssohn – A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture
Cecilia Sultana de Maria
We are very excited to be performing British composer Jonathan Dove’s flute concerto, The Magic Flute Dances.
The concerto, written in 1999, draws its inspiration and material from Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute and asks the question: What happens to the magic flute at the end of Mozart’s opera? Does Tamino give it back to the three ladies? Does it lie in a box, forgotten, at the back of a cupboard? Or does it, perhaps, when no-one’s looking, come out and dance, singing to itself about Tamino’s adventures..?
If you would like to know more about Jonathan please check out his website: www.jonathandove.com
The Little Orchestra: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into classical music?
Sasha Grynyuk: I grew up in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine and my elder brother Alexei started playing the piano around the time I was born, so I guess music was always around me even if I don’t quite remember it.
When I was seven I went to an arts school where I did a bit of singing and playing the piano and at the age of nine I won the piano competition for the arts schools in Kyiv and, probably driven by that, my parents decided to enter me for a specialist music school. I was very excited at the time to go there but to be honest my main excitement was not so much about the music as about meeting new people, having a new teacher and going to new places because as I could see from the example of my older brother music meant going places.
TLO: What made you decide to move to London?
SG: It was always a wish of mine to go and live somewhere else and the older I became the more that wish grew. London was my first choice partly because of Alexei who had studied at the Royal Academy of Music, but also because it seemed to be the most exciting place historically. From my early childhood Sherlock Holmes was my favourite fictional character – so to come to London was the fulfilment of a dream.
TLO: What do you like to do when you are not busy playing?
SG: Right now besides answering these questions I am also cooking spaghetti and gazpacho. Cooking is one of things I like to do and very occasionally I even like washing the dishes! Generally most of my days are a bit chaotic and unplanned except for the times when I teach and then I have to organise myself for a few hours.
I like having contrasts and if I spend too much time in the city I crave nature and vice versa. For instance to walk through a park and afterwards sit in a busy cafe observing people would be one of my ideal ways to spend some part of the day.
TLO: What are some of your favourite piano pieces that you would like to share with us?
SG: Well here are a few –
JS Bach – Chaconne in D minor (arranged by Ferruccio Busoni)
Robert Schumann – Carnaval
Sergei Rachmaninov – Preludes Opp. 23 and 32
Frédéric Chopin – Piano Concerto No. 1
But in truth I rarely listen to piano solo works and more and more prefer listening to chamber and orchestral works as well as jazz and many other styles including rock and pop. It is important to never judge music because of where it comes from, as Duke Ellington said “There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind.”
Sasha Grynyuk would like to say a big thank you to The Keyboard Trust for their support.
The Keyboard Trust identifies today’s most promising young keyboard talent and enables them to perform in many of the most important music centres in Europe and the Americas.
To find out more about the Trust’s excellent work and to consider becoming a Friend or making a donation click here.
Sasha played a Blüthner piano, generously supplied by the Blüthner Piano Centre. Click here for more information.
The Little Orchestra
|Anna Smith Leader||Alicia Berendse|
|Molly Cockburn||Anna Caban|
|Nicole Crespo O’Donoghue||Gabriela Opacka|
|Ana Do Vale||Timothy Rathbone|
|Alex Lomeiko||Daniel Rainey|
|Rose Hinton||Clara Garde|
|Lucia D’Avanzo-Lewis||Jaga Klimaszewska|
|Matthias Wiesner||Marie De Bry|
|Lourenço Macedo Sampaio||Joe Bronstein|
|Michael Atkinson||Solène Chevalier|
|Tatiana Chernyshova||Philip Collingham|
|Lachlan Radford||Ben Havinden-Williams|
|Jemma Freestone||Taylor Maclennan|
|Jenny Melville||Eleanor Tinlin|
|Rosemary Taylor||James Noble|
|Gareth Humphreys||Tom Hickman|
|Francisco Gomez Ruiz||Dewi Jones|
|Adam Stockbridge||Charlotte Buchanan|
The Camilla George Quartet
|Camilla George saxophone||Sarah Tandy piano|
|Dario Di Lecce bass||Femi Koleoso drums|
To hear more from this great Quartet go to www.camillageorge.com
Here are the first 100 photos. To see the full album on Facebook click here.
P.S. Tag away!
I really hope you enjoyed the music from the concert!
Here are a few tips and tricks for you if you want to get listening to these great masters at home.
Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20
Mitsuko Uchida (piano) with the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jeffrey Tate…
I adore this recording!
Mitsuko Uchida is one of the finest (in all senses of the word) pianists when it comes to Mozart! She has recorded all the piano concertos with the above combination, and is even having a second crack at them with the Cleveland Orchestra (see below), conducting them from the keyboard, as Mozart would have done in his day…
In this recording she performs the Beethoven cadenzas that you heard Sasha play at Oval Space.
Beethoven Symphony No.1
George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra…
George Szell is considered to be one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century and during his long relationship with the Cleveland Orchestra in the States he transformed them from a regional orchestra into one of the world’s finest…
This recording, made in the early 1960s, is seriously good! ☺
If you want another take on this piece (bearing in mind that every combination of orchestra and conductor is different) you could have a listen to Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe…
Nikolaus Harnoncourt is an interesting figure! He has always been passionate about how classical music was performed back in the day and infuses his performances with this passion.
Here he teams up with one of the top chamber orchestras around, a collection of some of the finest musicians across Europe. The result is electrifying. Note the sound of the orchestra, which is strikingly different from anything else you will hear on disc or online (not to mention our performance!).
So, if this has whetted your appetite, here are a few more recordings to keep you busy!
More Mozart Piano Concertos to check out…
Here’s Mitsuko again with the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jeffrey Tate…
Mozart Piano Concerto No.21
Mozart Piano Concerto No.23
Mozart Piano Concerto No.24
A few more symphonies…
For symphonies, we are going to send you back in time to the final symphonies (that’s one each!) of Mozart and Haydn, in whose footsteps Beethoven followed with his first symphony.
Mozart Symphony No.41 – written in 1788, 12 years before Beethoven’s public debut…
Bruno Walter conducting the Columbia Symphony Orchestra…
Bruno Walter was another of the bigwig conductors of the 20th century. Here again conducting an American orchestra, this one set up purely to make recordings. Walter left Germany in the 30s to escape the coming troubles of the 3rd Reich and ended up, like many of the greatest European musicians of the day, including George Szell, in America.
Haydn Symphony No.104 – written in 1795 for an adoring public in London…
Sir Colin Davis conducting the Royal Concertgebouw…
The Royal Concertgebouw is considered to be one of the finest symphony orchestras around, and in a survey in Gramophone magazine in 2008 it was voted number one.
Sir Colin Davis was a much-loved English conductor who died in 2013. He was the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1995 until 2006. (In the same survey they made it to number 4 in the list.) A much missed talent.
Well, there are a number of interesting connections between these two giant composers and the works we performed…
Mozart was born in Salzburg, now Austria, in 1756 and like many talented musicians of the day ended up (aged 25) in bustling Vienna, then a vibrant city of some 200,000 people with probably the largest concentration of musicians and musical opportunity anywhere in Europe.
I use the term “keyboard players” because at this stage the piano was in its infancy and indeed Mozart grew up playing the harpsichord, the predecessor to the piano. Beethoven was one of the first composers who learnt on the piano.
Fast forward to 1792, and a young, ambitious Beethoven, just shy of 22 (14 years Mozart’s junior), arrives in Vienna to make his mark on the musical world. The shocking thing is that by the time he arrived Mozart was already gone, having died the year before at the age of 35. However, in those 35 years that Mozart was alive he lived intensely (not to mention the fact that he was a precocious child prodigy and so had a bit of a head start!), leaving a staggering 600 plus works behind him.
Beethoven’s trajectory as a composer was more of a slow burn (he lived to 57) but in the end no less glorious.
However, in one sense their trajectories were very similar. Both were hugely talented keyboard players, and it did not take either of them long to conquer the capital on this front. Mozart did a lot of performing when he first got to Vienna and quickly established his reputation as the finest keyboard virtuoso in the capital. By the time Beethoven arrived in Vienna (from Bonn, the city of his birth) some 11 years later, he was one of the finest piano players alive, and it did not take the folks in Vienna long to figure this out.
In those days, being a virtuoso also meant being able to improvise, much in essence the way a jazz musician might improvise today, and in this Beethoven was without equal, as was Mozart before him.
Piano duels were a delight of the Viennese music lovers of the day, in which the improvising skills of two virtuosos would be pitted against each other.
On one occasion, during a musical soiree Beethoven was attending, he was provoked by a visiting virtuoso. His response was to get up, and, on the way over to the piano, to pick up the cello part of a piece composed by said virtuoso that had just been performed. Beethoven sat down at the piano, very deliberately turned the part upside down, randomly picked out a few notes with a pointed finger and then proceeded to improvise the hell out of his arbitrarily selected theme. By the time he finished the visiting virtuoso was nowhere to be seen…
Interestingly both the works we performed were written when the two composers were roughly the same age: Mozart a musically mature 28 year old, at the height of his powers, and Beethoven a budding genius of 29 with his greatest achievements ahead of him.
Mozart (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No. 20 (1785)
After settling into Vienna, Mozart’s life pretty quickly became hectic. When he wasn’t teaching (something he didn’t really enjoy but helped make ends meet) he was frenetically busy organising and performing in his own concerts, not to mention those organised by others: aristocratic admirers, impresarios and celebrated musicians. And for all of this he had to provide a relentless and steady stream of new music.
For his own concerts he often featured a new piano concerto with himself as the soloist. Between 1782 and 1786 he wrote a staggering 15 concertos (including his early efforts there are 27 piano concertos in all), and in the process elevated the form to new heights of beauty and perfection!
His concerts became a high point in the musical calendar in Vienna. They were often held in unusual spaces, such as the Mehlgrube, an establishment that hosted masked balls and receptions, and the Trattnerhof, an apartment building where Mozart lived for a time, which had a large hall. The audience size at these events was ballpark 150, seriously intimate by today’s standards. (Nowadays a big concert hall can be anywhere between 2000 to 5000 seats!)
Mozart had an extraordinary capacity for writing music at speed. This particular concerto and the one that followed it (No. 21 – another showstopper – check out our Little tips for listening page for other Mozart piano concertos we think you might like…) were written in the space of a month.
On this occasion, 11th February 1785, Mozart’s father, Leopold, arrived at his son’s apartment in Vienna to discover Mozart frantically overseeing the last minute copying of the music for the orchestra for the first Mehlgrube concert of the season that evening. It was so last minute in fact that Mozart did not even have time to rehearse the final movement before the performance. Despite the mad rush to get the music ready, it was a success. Leopold (himself a musician and Mozart’s teacher when he was a boy) was very proud of his son’s new concerto and also impressed with how well the orchestra had coped with basically reading the music at sight.
Beethoven loved this concerto. He played it many times in public and even wrote down two cadenzas for it, that are still played to this day. He was asked by Mozart’s widow, Constanze, to perform the concerto as part of a memorial concert for her late husband some 3 years after his death.
So what the hell is a cadenza anyway?
Well, in those days, towards the end of the 1st and sometimes 3rd movements of a concerto the orchestra stops playing and the soloist has a space to improvise on the material that has been presented so far. A kind of spontaneous reflection on the music.
At the premiere, Mozart would have undoubtedly made something up on the spot. However, in some cases composers wrote down ‘improvisations’, like frozen moments of time that have been preserved to this day. In this case, nothing jotted down by Mozart survives, possibly due to the mad rush to get everything ready in time for the first performance.
However, lucky for us, some years later at the request of his one of his students Beethoven composed a set of cadenzas that Sasha shared with us at Oval Space. Here, you really hear the spirit of a mature Beethoven reflecting upon the concerto he loved so much. Today his are the most commonly performed cadenzas for this concerto, though there are others by composers of the past and some pianists even have a crack at their own.
Beethoven (1770-1827) Symphony No.1 (1800)
Although Beethoven was quick to establish himself as one of the leading piano virtuosos in Vienna, he was, in contrast to Mozart, slower to conquer the capital as a composer. In his early years in Vienna he devoted much of his time to performance and teaching, a necessary chore (except when his students were exceptionally talented or pretty, or both). Most of the compositions he wrote during this period were either for solo piano or small combinations of instruments which often included the piano. However through them his compositional powers steadily grew.
Beethoven, unlike Mozart, was not a speedy composer. He was quite a different animal. He needed time to mull ideas over, making copious amounts of sketches as he went, which he would then refine and rework, sometimes over long periods of time, in order to consciously forge works into existence.
(I guess you could liken Beethoven and Mozart to the Tortoise and the Hare! The extra 22 years were of great benefit to Beethoven.)
Beethoven first started playing with ideas for his first symphony in 1795. By this time, chiefly through the efforts of Mozart and Haydn (the other celebrated composer of the time and an equally important influence on Beethoven), the symphony had developed into one of the most powerful musical means through which to display your talents and art to the world.
It took Beethoven another 5 years to bring this work to fruition (the bulk of the work in the final 6 months) and finally, on April 2nd 1800, after more than 7 years living in the city, Beethoven gave his first public concert in Vienna, featuring his first symphony as the grand finale.
For the occasion he chose a grand venue: the Royal Imperial Court Theatre. Clearly, for Beethoven, this was a big deal: His first grand statement as a composer set on conquering the capital, as Mozart had done before him.
Mozart wrote 41 symphonies if you include a few of questionable authenticity.
Haydn wrote a staggering 104.
It is worth pointing out that only the later works of these composers achieved a scale comparable to Beethoven’s first effort.