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The father of the French symphony is featured in tonight's Full Works Concert. His name? Francois Joseph Gossec.
Tonight's Concert opens with Franz von Suppé’s Light Cavalry Overture, which is - perhaps surprisingly - the overture to an operetta Suppé wrote titled - perhaps unsurprisingly - Light Cavalry. It premiered in Vienna in 1866 and although it is rarely performed or recorded, the overture is one of Suppé's most popular compositions, and has achieved a quite distinct life of its own, quoted countless times by musicians and in cartoons.
Brahms worked on his first Piano Concerto for some years, which was the case with many of his works. After a prolonged gestation period, it was first performed on 22 January 1859 in Hanover, when Brahms was just 25. Five days later, at Leipzig, an unenthusiastic audience hissed at the concerto, while critics savaged it, labelling it 'perfectly unorthodox, banal and horrid'. The work's epic mood links the work explicitly to the tradition of the Beethoven symphony that Brahms sought to emulate. The finale of the concerto, for example, is clearly modeled on the last movement of Beethoven's third piano concerto, while the concerto's key of D minor is the same as both Beethoven's Ninth and Mozart's dramatic Piano Concerto No. 20.
Francois Joseph Gossec can rightly be considered as the father of the symphony in France. His Opus 8 Grandes Symphonies boldly used clarinets and employed a Minuet and Trio, a rarity in Paris at that time. Gossec, who had been born in Belgium, really mastered French style, writing in the orchestral tradition of Rameau, who had welcomed Gossec to the city in 1751.
The Cello Sonata by Chopin dates from the troubled final years of the composer's life and was his last published work. Chopin wrote very little for instruments other than piano, but he seems to have had a special feeling for the cello, composing three works for it. The Cello Sonata shows a little-known side of Chopin and some believe that it suggests the course his music might have taken had he not died so young.
Franz von Suppe: Light Cavalry – Overture
Neeme Jarvi conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Johannes Brahms: Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor Opus 15
Piano: Stephen Kovacevich
Wolfgang Sawallisch conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra
Francois Joseph Gossec: Symphony in E flat major Opus 8 No.1
Guy van Waas conducts Les Agremens
Frederic Chopin: Cello Sonata in G minor Opus 65
Cello: Mischa Maisky
Piano: Martha Argerich