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Saint-Saens stirring Organ Symphony is the dramatic climax to tonight's Hall of Fame Concert.
Our concert kicks off in the south-eastern corner of Finland with Sibelius and his Karelia suite. In 1893 Sibelius wrote several works for a patriotic historical pageant by students of the University of Helsinki in Viipuri, Karelia. The composer subsequently compiled the suite of three pieces from the pageant's incidental music. He held the Karelia province in particular affection. In earlier years he had been inspired by its folk music, and later he was to spend his honeymoon there.
Schubert wrote the original ‘Trout’ song when he was 20. The Trout Quintet is from five years later. The fourth of the quintet’s five moments is essentially a set of variations on the composer’s own tune and has become one of the favourite moments in Schubert’s output. We have one Sylvester Paumgartner to thank for this. He was an amateur cellist whom Schubert met while on his travels around Austria. Paumgartner not only suggested the quintet, but he also suggested that one of the movements might be based on The Trout.
Very little is known about the Italian Baroque composer Domenico Zipoli, whose stately Elevazione became something of a classical music hit in the 1990s thanks to its exposure on Classic FM. Since 1715, Zipoli had been the sole organist at the Jesuit church in Rome; he studied to become a catholic priest but, tragically, died from tuberculosis before he could become ordained. By that time, the composer had gained a considerable following in South American countries, where his choral music – all but forgotten now – was regularly performed.
A suite of themes from Downton Abbey follows, composed and performed by John Lunn with the Chamber Orchestra of London.
The grand climax of the concert is Saint-Saens' stirring Symphony No.3 in C minor (pictured). The work is probably best understood as a ‘Symphony with added organ’, because only two of its four movements feature the instrument. It’s a magnificent work with the composer saying he was writing to his limits: ‘I gave everything to it I was able to give. What I have accomplished here, I will never achieve again.’ The Royal Philharmonic Society in the UK commissioned the work and Saint-Saëns came over to conduct its premiere at the old St James’s Hall, now the site of the Le Meridien Hotel in London’s Piccadilly.
Jean Sibelius: Karelia Suite Opus 11
Pietari Inkinen conducts New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Franz Schubert: Piano Quintet in A major D.667
Jorg Demus (piano)
Domenico Zipoli: Elevazione
Oboe: Gordon Hunt
Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra
John Lunn: Downton Abbey – Suite
Piano: John Lunn
Chamber Orchestra of London
Camille Saint-Saens: Symphony No.3 in C minor Opus 78
Organ: Anita Priest
Zubin Mehta conducts Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra