The Full Works Concert – Thursday 6 June: Northern Sinfonia Week

Our fourth concert of the week from the Northern Sinfonia features a father-son collaboration and some quintessentially English classics.

Mark Savage

A father and son collaboration kicks off tonight's Full Works Concert - the fourth in Jane's series of performance from the Northern Sinfonia , Classic FM's Orchestra in the North-East of England. 

The conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier is joined by his father - the cellist Paul Tortelier - in Tchaikovsky 's Variations on a Rococo Theme. The piece was the closest Tchaikovsky ever came to writing a concerto for cello and orchestra. It was inspired by Mozart but does not employ a genuine Rococo Theme - rather Tchaikovsky created his own theme in the Rococo style.

Benjamin Britten 's Suite on English Folk Tunes - subtitled 'A time there was ...' - was the composer's last purely orchestral work. In it, Britten mixed some 17th century folksongs with rural songs he collected from his own time. Brilliantly rhythmic and tuneful, the colourful orchestration of these pieces are reminiscent of the well-loved Sea Interludes  from Peter Grimes.

The Northern Sinfonia are then joined by the oboe player Kurt Meier for Peter von Winter's Oboe Concerto No.2 in F major. Winter was a German composer who acted as a kind of bridge between Mozart and Weber in the development of German opera. He wrote more than 30 operas, all extremely successful but hardly ever performed now. Besides his dramatic works he composed concertos for wind and orchestra and some sacred music, including 26 masses.

Edward Elgar 's Three Characteristic Pieces was written over a long period of time. The French-style Mazurka dates from 1883, a period when Elgar was working as a conductor at the Powick Asylum. The second piece, a mysterious "Moorish Serenade," was written five years later. The final Gavotte appeared in 1899 and is stylistically more similar to the Enigma Variations

Gerald Finzi started writing Eclogue in the late 1920s but never got round to completing it. He originally wanted to write a grand piano concerto but, when he failed to finish it, he reworked the material so that it could be played on its own. Even then, it was never performed until after Finzi's death. 

‘Träume' is a piece for solo violin and chamber orchestra which Wagner wrote for the birthday of the poet and his friend, Mathilde Wesendonck. Lesley Hatfield is the soloist, while Richard Hickox coaxes sumptuous playing from the Northern Sinfonia.

Tonight's concert ends with Franz Schubert 's Symphony No.3 in D major. It was written in less than a month when the composer was 18 years old. It is conducted this evening by Heinrich Schiff who was Artistic Director of the Northern Sinfonia from 1990 to 1996.


Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme
Cello: Paul Tortelier
Conductor: Yan Pascal Tortelier
Northern Sinfonia

Benjamin Britten: Suite on English Folk Tunes
Conductor: Steuart Bedford
Northern Sinfonia

Peter von Winter: Oboe Concerto No.2 in F major
Oboe: Kurt Meier
Conductor: Howard Griffiths
Northern Sinfonia

Edward Elgar: Three Characteristic Pieces
Conductor: Neville Marriner
Northern Sinfonia

Gerald Finzi: Eclogue
Piano: Peter Donohoe
Conductor: Howard Griffiths
Northern Sinfonia

Richard Wagner: Wesendonck Lieder – Traume
Violin: Lesley Hatfield
Conductor: Richard Hickox

Franz Schubert: Symphony No.3 in D major
Conductor: Heinrich Schiff
Northern Sinfonia

The Full Works Concert