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The fiendishly difficult Violin Concerto by Sibelius is among the great works in tonight's concert.
Bach composed four orchestral suites, including his most famous offering, the Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D which contains the famous tune 'Air on a G string'. Bach's definition of 'orchestral' suites is pretty loose. The group of musicians performing the work might be as small as a string quartet, a handful of woodwind players, some trumpets and a percussionist. Suite No. 3 is scored for three instrumental choirs – two oboes, three trumpets, timpani and strings. The Air (the second movement) was transcribed for strings by August Wilhelmj, which made it a party piece playable on only one string of a violin – hence its nickname 'Air on the G string'. It's led scholars to believe the whole suite might have been composed for strings only, which would make it Bach's only known work written solely for four-part strings.
Debussy dedicated his Children's Corner to his daughter, Claude-Emma - known as "Chou-Chou" - who was three years old at the time. The pieces are not intended to be played by children; rather they are meant to be evocative of childhood and some of the toys in Chou-Chou's toy collection. Born in 1905, the girl was adored by her father. She died aged 13 scarcely a year after Debussy's own death.
The first performance of Mendelssohn's Hear My Prayer took place in Crosby Hall, London, on 8 January 1845. The accompanist on that occasion was organist, composer and teacher Ann Mounsey. She later married the lyricist of the work, William Bartholomew who also collaborated with Mendelssohn on his oratorio, Elijah. The passage 'O for the Wings of a Dove' is particularly well known. The great soprano Kiri te Kanawa sings it tonight, to mark the occasion of her 70th birthday.
Franz Krommer is known mainly for his compositions for wind instruments and the Concerto in E flat major for Clarinet and Orchestra is particularly exceptional for its superb writing for the clarinet and orchestra, and its compositional structure. It is the most performed clarinet concerto in the Czech repertoire.
It’s true to say that Sibelius (pictured) never totally left his first love, the violin, behind once he began to focus solely on composing. Infact he would have loved to premiere his only Violin Concerto himself - if only his performance technique had developed at the same pace as his compositional genius. In the end, a disastrous premiere led Sibelius into the inevitable revisions that ultimately resulted in the standard version that is most widely known today. In the 1990s, the violinist Leonidas Kavakos was allowed to record the original and it is said to take even more technical skill than the revised one.
Johann Sebastian Bach: Orchestral Suite No.3 in D major BWV.1068
Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Claude Debussy: Children's Corner
Felix Mendelssohn: Hear My Prayer Opus 39 No.1
Soprano: Kiri te Kanawa
Julius Rudel conducts Julius Rudel
Franz Krommer: Clarinet Concerto in E-flat major Opus 36
Clarinet: Sharon Kam
Jorg Faerber conducts Wurrtemberg Chamber Orchestra
Jean Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor Opus 47
Violin: Vilde Frang
Thomas Sondergard conducts WDR Symphony Orchestra