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Jane Jones plays more favourite works from the 2014 Hall of Fame, including Tallis’s 40-part motet ‘Spem in Alium’, Haydn’s Cello Concerto No.1 and Sibelius’s Second Symphony.
Tonight's concert opens with Ludwig van Beethoven's Coriolan Overture. It was written in 1807 for a tragic play about the ancient Roman leader Coriolanus (but not Shakespeare's version.) The structure and themes of the overture follow the play very generally. The main C minor theme represents Coriolanus' resolve and war-like tendencies (he is about to invade Rome), while the more tender E-flat major theme represents the pleadings of his mother to desist. Coriolanus eventually gives in to tenderness, but since he cannot turn back having led an army of his former enemies to Rome's gates, he kills himself.
Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, 'forced to become original'. In the 1760s, he made sure all his players in the Esterhazy orchestra had important parts to play, writing a number of appetising concertos to tempt the best players to stick with him. One such piece is the Cello Concerto No. 1 , written for Joseph Weigl. It was a present from the composer - one that was subsequently lost until 1961.
Sibelius's Symphony No.2 was premiered in 1902, not long after Finlandia had its first outing and just before his Violin Concerto made its debut. Pretty soon, the overtly Nordic sounds led the Symphony No.2 to be dubbed the ‘Symphony of independence’. Whether or not Sibelius actually intended this to happen has been open to debate, especially as sketches for it were begun while he was enjoying the beauty of the Italian countryside.
When Thomas Tallis, pictured, saw visiting Italian composers waving their 40-part motets in his face, he simply had to write such a piece himself - no mean feat for a composer nearing 70 years old. The music he came up with - Spem in Alium - is simply breathtaking and has captivated new generations down the years.
Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus is a work for harp and string orchestra, based on one of the folk songs quoted in Vaughan Williams' English Folk Song Suite. Vaughan Williams composed the work on commission from the British Council to be played at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. The first performance was by the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall on 10 June 1939, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult.
Ludwig van Beethoven: Coriolan Overture
Georg Solti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Joseph Haydn: Cello Concerto No.1 in C major
Wendy Warner directs the Camerata Chicago from the cello
Jean Sibelius: Symphony No.2 in D major
Colin Davis conducts the London Symphony Orchestra
Thomas Tallis: Spem in Alium
Andrew Parrott conducts the Taverner Choir
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Five Variants of ‘Dives & Lazarus’
Mark Elder conducts the Halle Orchestra