The Full Works Concert - Thursday 1 May 2014

Jane Jones marks anniversaries for Khachaturian, Dvorak and The Marriage of Figaro tonight.

Tonight Jane Jones marks a number of musical anniversaries, starting off with Mozart's brilliant opera, The Marriage of Figaro which was premiered on this day in 1786 at the Burgtheater in Vienna, with the composer at the keyboard. One contemporary reporter, who was lucky enough to witness Mozart in action said, ‘Mozart directed the orchestra, playing his fortepiano; the joy which this music causes is so far removed from all sensuality that one cannot speak of it. Where could words be found that are worthy to describe such joy?’ We hear the Overture tonight.

The Violin Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor by Polish violin virtuoso Henryk Wieniawski was dedicated to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia. It's rarely performed these days, perhaps because some consider it an improperly balanced work, with a tense, challenging first movement and a transparent, weak second and third movement. It was, after all, the composer's first attempt at writing a concerto and Wieniawski probably conceived it as a showpiece to show off his technical virtuosity. However, all the hard stuff was piled into the first movement, leaving the other two somewhat bereft of equivalent brilliance. When asked about the sheer near-impossible demands of the first movement, Wieniawski was reputed to have said, 'One must take risks!'

Aram Khachaturian, pictured, who died in Moscow on this day in 1978, was enjoying a good period in 1941, musically speaking at least. He had not long written his music for the ballet Happiness and his Violin Concerto. So when he was asked to provide incidental music for the revival of a play by Lermontov – and feeling he was on a roll – he quickly agreed. Soon, however, he was beginning to regret his decision as the theme for a central waltz in the production eluded him. Soon, though, with a little help from a friendly teacher, he had his theme – and its exuberant place at the heart of this suite is probably the biggest single reason for its success. 

An unusual performance of Bach's Flute Sonata in E major follows. It's played by the flautist Marina Piccinini with the Brasil Guitar Duo.

The subtitle of Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 is important: it’s not ‘To the New World’; it’s ‘From’. That doesn't stop people referring it simply as 'The New World Symphony', though. This is very much a symphony that looks back, from the USA, to Dvořák’s native Bohemia. When he premiered this work in Carnegie Hall in 1893, critics disagreed over whether it was an all-American symphony (as he’d promised) or just more of Dvořák’s usual fare. What is certain is that it has lived on its myriad merits ever since, remaining one of the most popular symphonies of all.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro – Overture
Rene Jacobs conducts Concerto Cologne

Henryk Wieniawski: Violin Concerto No.1 in F# minor Opus 14
Violin: Charlie Siem
Andrew Gourlay conducts the London Symphony Orchestra

Aram Khachaturian: Masquerade Suite
Neeme Jarvi conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Johann Sebastian Bach: Flute Sonata in E major BWV.1035
Flute: Marina Piccinini
Brasil Guitar Duo

Antonin Dvorak: Symphony No.9 in E minor Opus 95
Adam Fischer conducts the Budapest Festival Orchestra