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Beethoven's epic Choral Symphony is the climax of tonight's concert.
Despite sounding like a full-blooded Romantic piano concerto, Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto was actually composed for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight, a World War II love story with a sweeping soundtrack to match the romance of the plot. The film’s producers apparently had their eyes on Rachmaninov: he, they thought, would be the perfect man to write the score. But if you’re Rachmaninov, you can afford to turn down the odd commission here and there – and so, when the first-choice composer said ‘thanks but no thanks’, the job of penning the music for Dangerous Moonlight fell to Addinsell. His unashamed use of indulgent harmonies and grand Romantic gestures goes a great way towards explaining why the Warsaw Concerto remains hugely popular today.
The composer John Marsh was perhaps the most prolific English composer of his time. His own catalog of compositions records over 350 works, of which he lists 39 symphonies. Of these, only the nine that Marsh had printed are extant. Tonight we hear his eighth symphony, written in Salisbury.
The classical era was very much in Stravinsky's mind when he was composing his ballet Pulcinella. The great Russian impresario Diaghilev wanted a ballet based on an early 18th-century Commedia dell'arte libretto and music believed to have been composed by Giovanni Pergolesi. Stravinsky rewrote this older music in a more modern way by borrowing specific themes and textures, but interjecting modern rhythms, cadences and harmonies.
Beethoven's 'Choral' Symphony is arguably the greatest symphony ever composed: the summit of his achievements, a masterful musical celebration of the human race and a massive work that makes all who hear it feel better about life. It's famous for its setting of Friedrich Schiller’s poem 'Ode to Joy' – a text the composer had been fascinated with for over twenty years: "Mercy from the final judge! The dead shall live! Brothers, drink and chime in, all sinners shall be forgiven and hell shall be no more!" Triumphant words that perfectly match the power and scale of Beethoven’s immortal music.
Richard Addinsell: Warsaw Concerto
Piano: Daniel Adni
Kenneth Alwyn conducts the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
John Marsh: Symphony No.8 in G major
Mattias Bamert conducts the London Mozart Players
Igor Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite
Christopher Hogwood conducts the Basel Chamber Orchestra
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D minor (‘Choral’)
Soloists: Katerina Beravona, Aafge Heynis, Robert Dean Smith, Hanno Muller-Brachmann
Riccardo Chailly conducts the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chorus and Children’s Choir