The Full Works Concert - Friday 10 January 2014
Schubert's Unfinished Symphony is the climax of tonight's concert of Hall of Fame favourites, played in full.
Tonight's Hall of Fame Full Works concert opens with the rousing Dambusters March, Eric Coates' theme for the 1955 film. It is a favourite military band piece at flypasts in the United Kingdom.
Brahms lived and worked under the shadow of Beethoven throughout his career and in the case of his violin concerto, there is an obvious parallel to be made between the two composers’ works. Both wrote only one concerto for this most popular of instruments. Neither had any personal experience of playing the violin and therefore had to rely heavily on others to interpret the music and to guide its progress. And, despite all this, both composed a violin concerto that would end up in every great soloist’s repertoire, and in every lover of the instrument’s CD collection. In Brahms’s case, the inspiration and guide for the piece was his great friend, the violinist Joachim. The raw and rugged sound of the outer movements is contrasted with an Adagio of exquisite, silky beauty, with an intimacy that very few composers have truly been able to create.
Tonight's concert continues with the fourth of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. In the spring of 1721, Bach was contemplating changing jobs and, after a chance meeting with the Margrave of Brandenburg, the composer sent him a set of six concertos that he had already written - possibly as a kind of audition. The Margrave appears to have completely ignored the gift and the set were discarded in his library until his death in 1734. They were found in the Brandenburg archives during the 19th century.
Dvořák's American Suite in A major was composed initially for piano in New York in 1894. The composer orchestrated it in two parts more than a year after his return to the USA and immediately before his departure for Europe. The piano version was performed soon after its composition, but the orchestral version waited some years. The orchestral version of the American Suite was first played in concert in 1910 and not published until 1911, seven years after Dvořák's death in 1904.
Known to Austrians as the Unvollendete (‘Unfinished’), the Symphony no.8 by Schubert - pictured - might easily have been the Unbekannt (‘Unknown’) were it not for fate. A full 37 years after Schubert’s death, the world counted Schubert’s symphonies on just eight fingers, rather than nine. Then, in a case reminiscent of a rediscovered Picasso, a 76-year-old man, possibly in the belief that he was on his way out, came forward to a Viennese conductor with the astonishing news that he had a Schubert symphony. Well, part of one. Schubert had sent it to him, some 43 years earlier. Why had he not come forward before? Was it anything to do with the fact that the music was incomplete with evidence of pages simply having been ripped out? It is still as much of an enigma as anything Elgar ever came up with. Schubert had some six years of his life remaining after he started working on the piece, but he never completed it. One theory, still argued over today, is that the missing fourth movement is alive and well-known now as the Entr’acte from Schubert’s incidental music to the play Rosamunde. Who knows?
Eric Coates: Dambusters March
Lieutenant Colonel Graham Jones conducts Band of the Coldstream Guards
Johannes Brahms: Violin Concerto in D major Opus 77
Violin: Maxim Vengerov
Daniel Barenboim conducts Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Johann Sebastian Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No.4 in G major BWV.1049
Christopher Hogwood conducts Academy of Ancient Music
Antonin Dvorak: American Suite in A major
Trevor Pinnock conducts European Brandenburg Ensemble
Franz Schubert: Symphony No.8 in B minor D.759
Giuseppe Sinopoli conducts Dresden State Orchestra