Beauty and the Beast - Overture Alan Menken
Jane Jones' week of concerts from the Northern Sinfonia ends with a piece Elgar wrote for his dog.
Our week of concerts from the Northern Sinfonia ends as it began with a Mozart piano concerto played by Imogen Cooper. She directs the Northern Sinfonia from the piano in the Piano Concerto No.22 in E flat minor. Composed in December 1785, it's the first piano concerto of Mozart's to include clarinets in its scoring.
Elgar's final piece, the orchestral elegy 'Mina' had an unusual inspiration - the small Cairn Terrier which the composer loved in his latter years. Because his wife was not fond of dogs, Sir Edward - pictured above - had to board his animals with his sister until Lady Elgar's death in 1920. After that, when he dined at home, his two dogs had places set for them at the table. Elgar managed to score half the piece on his deathbed and left important indications on how the remaining bars should be orchestrated.
The Northern Sinfonia's main work in tonight's concert is a performance of Schubert's ninth symphony known as the 'Great'. Schubert referred to it in his own letters as ‘a grand symphony’, and concert-goers tend to agree that it is almost an hour of pure musical majesty. It was written just three years before the composer died, sketched over what must have felt like almost a born-again summer. His ill-health had suddenly and unexpectedly gone into remission; throughout 1825, when the Great was written, Schubert appeared to be completely well. Cue the huge, grand symphony, full of fresh life – arguably more powerful than any of his others. Here was a man who, sadly and wrongly, thought he was cured. The fourth movement Allegro vivace is simply breathtaking.
Our concert concludes with John Stanley's Organ Concerto in E minor. The organist Gerald Gifford directs the orchestra from the organ in a 1979 recording, made in Hexham Abbey on the then-new organ. The instrument turned out to be hugely popular and has been used in recitals and recordings by several great organists, including Gillian Weir, who is the wife of its builder.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No.22 in E flat minor
Piano/Director: Imogen Cooper
Edward Elgar: Mina
Conductor: Neville Marriner
Franz Schubert: Symphony No.9 in C major 'Great'
Conductor: Thomas Zehetmair
John Stanley: Organ Concerto in E minor
Organ/Director: Gerald Gifford