The Full Works Concert - Thursday 8 May 2014

Holst, Rossini, Bach and Chopin are the musical giants featured in tonight's Concert.

Tonight's concert opens with the overture to Rossini's opera, The Silken Ladder. The overture has been frequently recorded and is better known than the opera it comes from. The Silken Ladder was one of four Italian farces that Rossini composed from 1810 to 1813. The pieces had a cast of five to seven singers, always including a pair of lovers, at least two comic parts, and one or two other minor roles. They called for much visual comedy improvised by the players, and all the wit and excitement to come is reflected in the overture.

The next piece in tonight's Concert is Johann Sebastian Bach's Violin Concerto in E major BWV. 1042. Bach was himself a skilled violinist. He led the court orchestra of Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen and wrote lots of chamber music for it. Half of the violin concertos that he wrote have been lost. However, of those that remain, the E-major concerto of 1717 is a brilliant example of the genre. In distinction to modern concertos, which are generally virtuoso solo pieces with orchestral accompaniment, the musical line is more important to Bach than the actual instrument he is writing for.

Les Sylphides is a short ballet orchestrated from Chopin's music by Alexander Glazunov. Glazunov had already set some of the music in 1892 as a purely orchestral suite, under the title Chopiniana. The ballet has no plot, but instead consists of many white-clad sylphs dancing in the moonlight with a poet or young man dressed in white tights and a black top. Tonight we hear the Prelude played by the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Richard Bonynge.

A popular work of Joseph Haydn's - his Harpsichord Concerto in D Major - is next up tonight. Helmut Muller-Bruhl conducts the Cologne Chamber Orchestra.

Tonight's concert concludes with Holst's Symphony in F major, subtitled 'The Cotswolds', pictured. Holst completed it in 1900 while touring as a trombonist with the Carl Rosa opera company. The second movement of the work, an elegy, was written in honour of the great Socialist visionary and designer William Morris who died in 1896. It has some amazing harmonic and dramatic moments. Holst's daughter Imogen remarked that her father was beginning to take more chances in his music and this symphony proved to be the most ambitious work he had undertaken to date.

Gioachino Rossini: The Silken Ladder – Overture

Yehudi Menuhin conducts Sinfonia Varsovia 

Johann Sebastian Bach: Violin Concerto in E major BWV.1042
Viktoria Mullova directs the Mullova Ensemble from the violin

Frederic Chopin: Les Sylphides – Suite
Richard Bonynge conducts the National Philharmonic Orchestra

Joseph Haydn: Harpsichord Concerto in D Major Hob XVIII:2
Helmut Muller-Bruhl conducts the Cologne Chamber Orchestra.

Gustav Holst: Symphony in F major Opus 8 'The Cotswolds'
Douglas Bostock conducts the Munich Symphony Orchestra