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A Royal commission from the Prince of Wales crowns this evening's selection of classics.
Many a TV advertisement has used the opening movement, Morning from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No.1 to create the right mood. The fourth movement depicting life In the Hall of the Mountain King, meanwhile, will forever be remembered as the Alton Towers theme tune. Grieg, however, had very different ideas at the forefront of his mind when he composed this glorious music. He had been asked by the playwright Henrik Ibsen to set to music his quintessentially Scandinavian play Peer Gynt. The composer responded by creating a collection of tableaux, some of which were later formed into two separate suites. He didn’t have much faith in them, feeling under pressure from Ibsen to come up with the melodies as quickly as possible, but they were received with huge enthusiasm by the Norwegian audiences of his day.
Beethoven composed most of his third piano concerto in 1800, in time for a debut concert in Vienna - but he chose instead to play an earlier concerto. He eventually premiered the new concerto on an 1803 program that also included the first performances of the Second Symphony and an oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives. On the day of the concert, Beethoven rehearsed the orchestra, starting at eight until breaking in the afternoon for food and wine. The performance commenced at six that evening. For the concerto, Beethoven performed from a hastily written score that, in the words of his page turner, contained 'almost nothing but empty leaves; at the most, on one page or another a few Egyptian hieroglyphs wholly unintelligible to me were scribbled down to serve as clues for him.'
Patrick Hawes was commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales to write the Highgrove Suite in 2009. This began as a one-movement work for harp and strings and was premiered at Covent Garden on the Prince’s 60th birthday by the royal harpist Claire Jones and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Three new pieces for the same forces completed the suite, each one inspired by an aspect of Prince Charles's garden at Highgrove House, pictured.
Johann Sebastian Bach's Triple Concerto in A minor brings together the combined forces of flute, violin and harpsichord. Richard Egarr on harpsichord with Rachel Brown - flute - and the Academy of Ancient Music, led by Andrew Manze, present this masterpiece in a radically fresh, intimate reading charged with dramatic intensity.
Edvard Grieg: Peer Gynt Suite No.1
Neeme Jarvi conducts the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor
Piano: Andras Schiff
Bernard Haitink conducts Staatskapelle Dresden
Patrick Hawes: Highgrove Suite
Harp: Claire Jones
Patrick Hawes conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra
Johann Sebastian Bach: Triple Concerto in A minor
Soloists: Richard Egarr, Andrew Manze, Rachel Brown
Academy of Ancient Music