The Full Works Concert - Monday 4 November 2013

All this week, the Full Works Concert is celebrating the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra – Classic FM’s Orchestra in the North-West of England.

This week, Anne-Marie Minhall, sitting in for Jane Jones, is showcasing the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra – Classic FM’s Orchestra in the North-West of England – with a five-night series of concerts.  

Tonight, the highlights include a feast of English music thanks to George Butterworth, Arthur Sullivan and Henry Walford Davies, alongside an acclaimed recording of Beethoven’s famous Symphony No.5 under the baton of Sir Charles Mackerras.

The concert opens with the R.A.F. March Past by Sir Henry Walford Davies who was Master of the King's Musick from 1934 until 1941. In 1918 he was appointed the first director of music to the newly created Royal Air Force, which led to him composing this popular march, which is still played by many marching bands today.

The opening of Ludwig Van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony has become classical music's greatest calling-card. Simply, it is what people think of when they think of classical music. But why? Could that famous opening 'duh-duh-duh-duuuh' be Fate knocking at the door? Many seem to think it could be the case. But, aside from an assertion to that effect by Beethoven’s friend Schiller, there’s very little evidence to suggest that it was the composer’s intention. Instead, could it simply be the case that Beethoven’s musical genius led him to write an outstanding, gripping melody? The whole symphony is tied up with drama and darkness, and Beethoven makes something miraculous out of it. Few symphonies cover so much ground and remain completely accessible.

The Poeme for Violin and Orchestra by Ernest Chausson is a staple of the violinist's repertoire and is generally considered the composer's best-known and most-loved composition. It was written in response to a request from Eugène Ysaÿe for a violin concerto. Chausson felt unequal to the task, writing to Ysaÿe: "I hardly know where to begin with a concerto, which is a huge undertaking, the devil's own task. But I can cope with a shorter work. It will be in very free form with several passages in which the violin plays alone." Chausson knocked the piece out during his next holiday in Florence, Italy.

George Butterworth died prematurely during the First World War and so did not write a great deal of music. But his works based on A. E. Housman's collection of poems A Shropshire Lad are among the best loved of English music. In 1911 and 1912, the composer wrote 11 settings of Housman's poems. The songs were dedicated to Victor Annesley Barrington-Kennett, a friend from Eton and Oxford, who was also to die in France in 1916.

Our concert ends with Pineapple Poll - music from a Gilbert and Sullivan-inspired comic ballet - pictured - created by choreographer John Cranko with music arranged by the conductor Sir Charles Mackerras. The piece premiered in 1951 at Sadler's Wells Theatre and was given many revivals internationally during the following decades. It remains in the repertoire of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. It has also been recorded many times.

Henry Walford Davies: R.A.F. March Past

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Charles Groves

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No.5 in C minor 
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Charles Mackerras

Ernest Chausson: Poeme for Violin and Orchestra
Violin: Philippe Graffin
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley 

George Butterworth: A Shropshire Lad 
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Grant Llewelyn

Arthur Sullivan: Pineapple Poll 
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/David Lloyd-Jones