Conductor Jon Hargreaves
Leader Tina Bowles
Date: Sunday 24th March 2019
Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor. Soloist Josh Salter
Brahms Symphony No 4 in E minor
Edward Elgar (1857-1934) was considered to be the greatest English composer since the death of Henry Purcell (in 1695). Remarkably, he was largely self-taught. Elgar’s music combines lyricism, grandeur and popular appeal. His reputation was secured by the Enigma Variations, the first performance of which was in June 1899, and his ceremonial music has become part of the national heritage.
The ‘cello concerto was first performed nearly 100 years ago, on 27 October 1919, in the Queen’s Hall, London. Elgar had been depressed by the World War and in 1917 had been unwell. The music he wrote in this period has been characterised as having the energy of his heyday, but with an autumnal tinge.
The concerto itself has been described as a personal requiem for a world Elgar knew had vanished with the war. As had been the case with other premières of Elgar’s works, the first performance was not a success, because of inadequate rehearsal; the London Medical Orchestra promises that there will be no repeat of this mistake.
In 1965, Jaqueline du Pré made a recording of the concerto, with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Barbirolli. The perceived close association between du Pré and this concerto was made even stronger, and more poignant, following her death, at the age of 42, in 1987.
Our soloist will be Josh Salter, who is the regular leader of the LMO’s ‘cello section. He was born in Hull and studied at Chethams’ School of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music. He has performed most of the major ‘cello concertos and, as a chamber musician, has broadcasted on BBC Radio 3 and performed at numerous music festivals.
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) followed the classical tradition established by Mozart, Beethoven and others. He came to wide notice in the 1850s, largely as result of his association and friendship with Robert (1810-1856) and Clara (1818-1896) Schumann. Brahms wrote music as music, rather than as a form of literary or visual art (programme music). 19th century critics often treated Brahms and Richard Wagner (1813-1883), whose music is essentially dramatic, as antithetical and divided themselves into two, sometimes bitterly-opposed, camps. The respective principals remained aloof from the fight.
Brahms’s symphonies took classical form, albeit strongly overlaid with romanticism. His first symphony was not published until 1876 and the last, the fourth, had its first performance in 1885.
The first two movements are in sonata form. The third movement, the Allegro giacoso, is the only symphonic scherzo which Brahms ever wrote. The final movement, which includes trombones, their first use by Brahms, is based on a theme from a Bach cantata. It is in the form of a passacaglia (variations with a regular bass accompaniment) and ends with an energetic coda.
The rehearsals for the first performance were conducted by Hans von Bulow (1830-1894) but the concert, in Meiningen, was conducted by Brahms himself. The early audiences were unsure about the piece, but in Vienna it soon became a favourite.
The LMO’s chosen charity on this occasion is Arts 4 Dementia. Profits from the evening will be donated to Arts 4 Dementia, empowering people living with dementia in the community through artistic stimulation. A4D partners with arts organisations to deliver challenging arts programmes for people in the early stages of dementia. The website (https://arts4dementia.org.uk) provides the only national listing of arts events for people living with dementia and arts facilitators from around the country are trained in early stage dementia awareness. To date over 600 are available to deliver arts events to over 12,000 people with dementia in the coming year. A4D focuses on what people can achieve, which is often very much more than they imagine.
Date: Sunday 30th June 2019
Programme: to be announced