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Tonight Anne-Marie offers the rare chance to hear Tolga Kashif’s Queen Symphony in full.
When two married women receive love letters from the impoverished knight Falstaff, they decide to teach him a lesson, tipping him into a ditch from a laundry basket. There is much more to Nicolai's opera of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor than just that, but all the frivolity and plotting is captured in the opera's overture, played tonight by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields conducted by Neville Marriner.
Unlike his famous Adagio, there is no question mark hanging over the authorship of one of Albinoni’s best-known works for oboe - the Concerto in D minor. The composer spent much of the 1720s touring the most fashionable international opera houses, overseeing the performance of his works. It meant that he found himself in the front line when it came to experiencing the latest advances in the music of the period. He was one of the first in Italy to write for the oboe – an emerging new instrument. This concerto is a near-perfect example of the species.
Freddie Mercury - flamboyant frontman of the rock band Queen - often expressed that he would 'like people to put their own interpretation' on his songs, and in 2002, Tolga Kashif did just that. It is based on around a dozen well-known Queen hits, including Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions and Who Wants to Live Forever. Kashif spent two years composing the Queen Symphony. He conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in its debut on 6 November 2002. That night, it received a standing ovation from more than 2000 people. The concert was attended by Freddie Mercury's mother Jer Bulsara, Queen drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May. They said they 'very much enjoyed it' and said it was 'very moving indeed'.
Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor was composed in 1868 and is probably his most popular piano concerto. At the première, the composer was the soloist and Anton Rubinstein conducted the orchestra. Saint-Saëns wrote the concerto in three weeks, and had very little time to prepare for the première; consequently, the piece wasn't successful at first. The swift changes in musical styles in the concerto provoked one critic to say that it 'begins with Bach and ends with Offenbach.'
Carl Otto Nicolai: The Merry Wives of Windsor – Overture
Neville Marriner conducts the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Tomaso Albinoni: Oboe Concerto in D minor Opus 9 No.2
Heinz Holliger directs I Musici from the oboe
Tolga Kashif: The Queen Symphony
Tolga Kashif conducts the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Voices and the London Oratory School Schola
Camille Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor Opus 22
Piano: Benjamin Grosvenor
James Judd conducts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra