Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis Ralph Vaughan Williams Download 'Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis' on iTunes
An all-American ballet, a Baroque trumpet concerto and a grand Russian symphony make up tonight's concert.
Tonight's concert opens with Aaron Copland's ballet music for Appalachian Spring. It tells the story of pioneer settlers establishing a homestead and interacting with the landscape around them. Oddly enough, the title and the ballet are unconnected, with choreographer Martha Graham deliberately misconstruing the meaning as being related to the season spring, rather than the originally intended spring of water. Regardless, the ballet was a hit and Copland expanded his score to be played by a full orchestra. Listen out for the Simple Gifts tune - popularly known as Lord of the Dance.
A Baroque trumpet concerto by Johann Melchior Molter follows. Around 1750, the composer wrote three concertos for Carl Pfeiffer, the court trumpeter for Molter's employers - the Margraves of Baden-Durlach in Karlsruhe. Molter's first concerto, which we hear tonight, plays it safe musically, avoiding the extreme high register (which perhaps Pfeiffer wasn't strong in) but demanding superb breath control for the long phrases with few rests.
At the time his Symphony No. 2 was composed, Rachmaninov had had two successful seasons as conductor of Moscow's Imperial Opera. But he considered himself first and foremost a composer and felt that the conducting job was detracting from his time to write music. He moved his wife and daughter to Dresden in Germany to spend more time composing and to also escape the coming storm of the Russian revolution. It was during this time that he wrote his Second Symphony. Never a confident symphonist - particularly after the disastrous premiere of his first symphony - he was very unhappy with the Second Symphony's first draft but, after months of revision, he finished the work and conducted the premiere in 1908 to great acclaim.
Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring
Richard Hickox conducts the City of London Sinfonia
Johann Melchior Molter: Trumpet Concerto No.1 in D major
Trumpet: Hakan Hardenberger
Elgar Howarth conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra
Sergei Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 in E minor Opus 27
Owain Arwel Hughes conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra