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Mahler's epic fifth symphony is the major work in tonight's concert.
Tonight's concert opens with Antonin Dvorak's Carnival Overture. It was written in 1891 and forms part of a trilogy of Dvorak overtures called Nature, Life and Love. This Carnival Overture represents 'Life'. Dvorák said that the work was meant to depict 'a lonely, contemplative wanderer reaching at twilight a city where a festival is in full swing. On every side is heard the clangor of instruments, mingled with shouts of joy and the unrestrained hilarity of the people giving vent to their feelings in songs and dances.'
Equally joyful is Hummel's popular Trumpet Concerto in E flat major, written for the Viennese trumpet virtuoso and inventor of the keyed trumpet, Anton Weidinger. It was written in December 1803 and performed on New Year's Day 1804 to mark Hummel's entrance into the Esterházy court orchestra as Haydn's successor. The influence of Mozart on Hummel is evident in this exuberant work.
Delius’ compositions were strongly influenced by Grieg, and it's said that On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring is a sort of reflection on one of Grieg’s Norwegian Folk Tunes. It dates from the happy period of Delius' life and is one of his most impressionistic works with the clarinet repeating the cuckoo’s familiar call.
A vocal interlude follows with soprano Elin Manahan Thomas singing Where the Bee Sucks, from Thomas Arne's incidental music for Shakespeare's The Tempest.
Gustav Mahler, pictured, is famous for the way he stretched classical music to its limits. Principally this happened through his huge symphonies which nearly all require a very large orchestra and often last for more than an hour. Indeed in the case of the Symphony No.5, Mahler even adds a fifth movement, not content with any convention that dictated the fourth movement to be the finale. And yet, despite all this grandness of scale and depth, the main reason for the enduring popularity of his Symphony No.5 is the exquisite, ten-minute Adagietto that forms the fourth movement and which, more presciently, was put to such powerful use in the film Death in Venice.
Antonin Dvorak: Carnival Overture
Neeme Jarvi conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Johann Nepomuk Hummel: Trumpet Concerto in E flat major
Trumpet: Wynton Marsalis
Raymond Leppard conducts the National Philharmonic Orchestra
Frederic Delius: On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring
Owain Arwel Hughes conducts Camerata Wales
Thomas Arne: Where the Bee Sucks
Soprano: Elin Manahan Thomas
Harry Christophers conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No.5 in C sharp minor
Sakari Oramo conducts the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra