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Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony is the highlight of tonight's Full Works Concert.
Tonight's concert opens with Edward Elgar's Cockaigne Overture, a commission from the Royal Philharmonic Society, first performed at the Queen's Hall, London on 20 June 1901, conducted by the composer. In its 15 minutes or so the overture gives a lively and colourful musical portrait of Edwardian London. 'Cockaigne' was a term used at that time as a metaphor for gluttony and drunkenness, and it was adopted humorously to describe London. Elgar dedicated the work to his 'many friends, the members of British orchestras'. It was an immediate success and became one of Elgar's most popular works.
It was an invitation from Herbert von Karajan to the Salzburg Festival 20 years ago that launched the worldwide career of the Istanbul-born Pekinel twins. Turkey’s answer to the Labèque sisters are an exciting duo who play with energy and zest; this is particularly the case in Bach's concerto for two keyboards in C major that we hear tonight.
Originally dubbed 'recollections of life in the country', Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 is the composer's homage to the great outdoors. He was, in many ways, an urban man, known and revered in Vienna, and central to the city’s reputation within European culture at the time. And yet, as the five descriptively titled sections of this piece so amply prove, he also had a joyous view of the countryside and all it contains. The work is one of the first real examples of what became known as 'programme music': music that tells a specific story or paints an aural picture of a particular scene. Just one of the many ways in which Beethoven was a groundbreaking composer.
The concert ends tonight with Louis Spohr's Clarinet Concerto No.2 in E flat major. American clarinetist Jon Manasse delivers a buoyant performance with nimble support from the Seattle Symphony led by Gerard Schwarz.
Edward Elgar: Cockaigne Overture
Mark Elder conducts the Halle Orchestra
Johann Sebastian Bach: Concerto for 2 Keyboards in C major
Piano: Guher Pekinel, Suher Pekinel
Howard Griffiths conducts the Zurich Chamber Orchestra
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F major (‘Pastoral’)
Ivan Fischer conducts the Budapest Festival Orchestra
Louis Spohr: Clarinet Concerto No.2 in E flat major
Clarinet: Jon Manasse
Gerard Schwarz conducts the Seattle Symphony Orchestra