The Full Works Concert - Monday 7 October 2013

Tonight Jane Jones spans the centuries from - Haydn in the 18th to Gershwin in the 20th.

Tonight's concert opens in dazzling style with George Gershwin's An American in Paris. Gershwin first visited the French capital soon after the premiere of his Rhapsody in Blue in 1924. Two years later, he went to Paris again and the idea came to him of composing an orchestral work describing his impressions of the city. He even bought some authentic Parisian taxi horns, after deciding to use the real thing. It was another two years after that, though, before he got round to serious work on the piece. Back in Paris in 1928, he had meetings with Ravel, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Poulenc and Milhaud - and bought more taxi horns. Gershwin described the piece as a 'rhapsodic ballet…written very freely and...the most modern music I've yet attempted.' It's played tonight by the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Chailly.

Joseph Haydn completed his Horn Concerto in D major in 1762 when he was new to the Esterhazy court. Because of the low range writing in the Adagio, some believe the concerto was written for the Esterhazy's horn player Thaddaus Steinmuller. Others believe it was a present for the baptism ceremony of one of the children of Joseph Leutgeb (for whom Mozart wrote his horn concertos).

The next piece in tonight's concert is Rachmaninov's popular Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Rachmaninov wasn’t the first composer to have written something new in response to the famous caprice: Brahms had done the same thing in the 1860s with his Variations on a Theme of Paganini for solo piano. But these days, it’s Rachmaninov’s take on this sprightly melody that is far and away the favourite. Across a 20-minute period, Rachmaninov moulds the main theme in all sorts of ways. And of all the variations, it’s No.18 that sings and soars above any other. It's performed tonight by Lang Lang.

This evening's concert concludes with Beethoven's magnificent Violin Concerto in D major. The concerto was rattled off by Beethoven in a remarkably short space of time; he took just a few weeks to compose it in the winter of 1806, and it was premiered by his colleague Franz Clement within days of its completion on 23 December. It was a fairly rushed affair - the soloist hadn’t had time to learn his part, so spent a good deal of the concert sight-reading. Consequently, the concerto was not an instant success but it has grown in stature and popularity over the years. It's played tonight by David Garrett, pictured above.


George Gershwin: An American in Paris
Riccardo Chailly conducts the Cleveland Orchestra

Josef Haydn: Horn Concerto in D major
Horn: Barry Tuckwell
English Chamber Orchestra

Sergei Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Piano: Lang Lang
Valery Gergiev conducts the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre

Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major
Violin: David Garrett
Ion Marin conducts the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra