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Tonight Jane Jones presents Holst's The Planets on a special anniversary for the work.
The first complete version of Holst’s The Planets was premiered on this day in 1920. Tonight, Jane Jones begins with a complete performance of the work, before going on to feature some other choice examples of English music.
A great deal of Holst ’s personality is captured in The Planets , with the extrovert in Jupiter, his sense of humour in Uranus, and his relaxed manner in the lyrical in the second movement of the work, Venus. Venus was the second of the seven to be composed and has an unmistakable air of calm contrasting with the first movement, which is very loud and thunderous.
Henry Purcell probably wrote his Chaconne in G minor for Strings sometime around 1680. Three years earlier, when he was 18, he took his first adult job, as composer for the court violin band known as the Twenty-Four Violins. The Chaconne is probably one of the pieces he wrote in his new position. It is a magnificent example of the baroque mastery of variations built around a repetitive bass pattern.
The Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite is made up of music from a 13-part TV series produced in 1987. The show recreated a kitchen garden of the Victorian era at Chilton Foliat in Wiltshire. The theme music and soundtrack was composed by Paul Reade and performed principally by Emma Johnson playing the clarinet. It won the 1991 Ivor Novello award for best TV theme music.
When Thomas Tallis 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.
Finally tonight, the Piano Concerto in E-flat by John Ireland - his only concerto. It was composed in 1930, and given its first performance on 2 October of that year by its dedicatee, Helen Perkin. Ireland was romantically interested in her, but his feelings were not reciprocated. She married another man and later moved with him to Australia. As a result, Ireland withdrew the dedication! The Piano Concerto is in two movements; the slow movement leads directly into the finale. Towards the end of the slow movement Ireland quotes a melody from Helen Perkin's String Quartet, with which she had earlier won the Royal College of Music's Cobbett Prize for Composition. The work was an immediate success, and it was frequently performed by pianists such as Clifford Curzon, Moura Lympany, and Arthur Rubinstein. While it is considered one of the best piano concertos ever written by an Englishman, it is not often heard nowadays and is not part of the standard repertoire.
Gustav Holst:The Planets
Simon Rattle conducts the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the women of the Berlin Radio Chorus
Henry Purcell: Chaconne in G minor for Strings
Gavin Sutherland conducts the Royal Ballet Sinfonia
Paul Reade: The Victorian Kitchen Garden, Suite
Clarinet: Emma Johnson
Harp: Skaila Kanga
Thomas Tallis: Spem in Alium
Jeremy Summerly conducts the Oxford Camerata
John Ireland: Piano Concerto in E flat major
Piano: Piers Lane
David Lloyd-Jones conducts the Ulster Orchestra