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Holst's The Planets and Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals book end a lesser-known clarinet concerto.
Our concert opens tonight with Gustav Holst's The Planets, a work that captures a great deal of the composer's personality. There's his extrovert side in Jupiter, his sense of humour in Uranus, and his relaxed manner in the lyrical second movement of the work, Venus. Venus was the second of the seven Planets to be composed and has an unmistakable air of calm contrasting with the first movement, Mars, which is very loud and thunderous.
The Bohemian composer Leopold Kozeluch got himself a bad reputation by badmouthing Haydn to Mozart - to which Mozart reportedly replied, "even if you were to put the two of us together, you would still not produce a Haydn!" Kozeluch was no Mozart or Haydn to be certain, but he was a bold and imaginative composer whose works offer enormous technical challenges for the soloist. The Clarinet Concerto No.2 in E flat major is not an entirely original work; Kozeluch reworked and expanded a similar work by Stamitz. This is undoubtedly the better of the two.
Tonight's concert ends with Saint-Saens' ever-popular The Carnival of the Animals. It's one of the composer's most popular works, but Saint-Saëns premiered his ‘grand zoological fantasy’ privately. It was written as a bit of fun for friends, and Saint-Saëns even requested that it was never published or performed throughout his lifetime as he thought the work detracted from his 'serious' image! Only 'The Swan' was published in his lifetime, but the 14 movement piece has now become a cornerstone of classical music.
Gustav Holst: The Planets Opus 32
Mark Elder conducts the Halle Orchestra and the Ladies of the Halle Choir
Leopold Kozeluh: Clarinet Concerto No.2 in Eb major
Clarinet: Dieter Klocker
Dieter Klocker directs the Prague Chamber Orchestra
Camille Saint-Saens: The Carnival of the Animals
Yoel Levi conducts members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra