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Classic FM’s celebrations of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary continues with a brand new recording of Elgar’s First Symphony.
Tonight's concert opens with Hamish MacCunn's The Land of the Mountain and the Flood. As a boy of eight, MacCunn had been taken to his first season of concerts at Crystal Palace in London. So it was apt that, as a prodigious 19-year-old, he should have gone back there to hear the premiere performance of his major new work. Although the music critic George Bernard Shaw was withering in his review – attacking the perceived formulaic nature of its middle section – The Land of the Mountain and the Flood has stood the test of time, remaining by far the composer’s most popular work.
It is a little-known fact that we never hear Mozart's famous Clarinet Concerto played on the instrument he originally intended – the first 199 bars of the work are identical to an abandoned concerto for basset horn that he began as early as 1787. What may have stimulated Mozart into completing it for his friend Anton Stadler was a journey Mozart made to Prague with his pupil Süssmayr, who revealed to Mozart that he was writing a concerto for Stadler. Mozart could not allow himself to be outdone. He wrote the concerto in Vienna some time between the end of September and the beginning of October 1791.
Elgar's Symphony No. 1 received its first performance from the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Hans Richter in Manchester on 3 December 1908. It was widely known that Elgar had been planning a symphony for more than ten years, and the announcement that he had finally completed it aroused enormous interest. The critical reception was enthusiastic, and the public response unprecedented. The symphony achieved what The Musical Times described as "immediate and phenomenal success", with a hundred performances in Britain, continental Europe and America within just over a year of its première.
Boléro, the most famous work by Ravel, was written more than 80 years ago but remains hugely popular, thanks to Torvill and Dean's record-breaking ice routine in the 1984 Winter Olympics. The piece started life as a ballet commissioned by Russian ballerina Ida Rubinstein, who initially asked Ravel to make an orchestral transcription of six pieces from Albéniz's set of piano pieces, Iberia . A subsequent copyright row prompted Ravel to rethink and instead write a completely new piece based on the Spanish bolero dance. Boléro is Ravel's simplest composition. Written in C major and 3/4 time, it begins quietly and rises in a continuous crescendo to as loud as possible. The orchestration builds over an unchanging rhythm played on a snare drum that remains constant throughout the piece. The work was a huge success when it was premiered at the Paris Opéra in November 1928 and, much to Ravel's surprise, became his most famous composition.
Hamish MacCunn: The Land of the Mountain and the Flood
Douglas Bostock conducts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A major
Clarinet: Nicholas Cox
Roy Goodman conducts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Edward Elgar: Symphony No.1 in A-flat major
Vasily Petrenko conducts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Maurice Ravel: Boléro
Libor Pesek conducts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra