The Full Works Concert - Tuesday 1 October 2013

Mendelssohn, Handel, Chopin and Respighi are on the menu for tonight's Concert.

October on the Full Works Concert kicks off with Mendelssohn's Symphony No.4 in A major - known as the 'Italian'. Soon after the young composer’s first visit to Britain, he headed off to Italy as part of the same European tour. The buoyant and optimistic mood with which the work immediately begins bears all the hallmarks of a happy man, eager to make his mark on the world and express his travels through music.

Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks was written as a political gesture. In 1748, England and France had signed the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle to mark the end of the War of Austrian Succession which involved just about everyone - the Prussians, the Spanish and the Austrians themselves, as well as the two signatories to the peace treaty. To celebrate the peace, a spectacular display was to be held in London’s Green Park and Handel, the King’s chosen composer was the man to write the music. Sadly the real losers were the thousands of people who flocked to Green Park for the firework display who had to wait for hours and hours because of carriage traffic jams and queues, even for the rehearsal. On the night of the grand display, a wayward firework set light to the specially built Pavilion, which then caused a fight to break out amongst the organisers.

Far from being Chopin’s first piano concerto, the Piano Concerto No.1 is actually his second. It was published before the real No. 1, though, and therefore became forever known as the composer’s first. It’s astonishing to think that Chopin wrote it while in his late teens. At its premiere in 1830, he played the piano part himself, and the concert marked his final public appearance in Poland. Within weeks, Chopin had left for Vienna and then Paris, where he remained for the rest of his life.

With his 1927 composition The Birds, Italian composer Ottorino Respighi followed in Handel's footsteps and tried to transcribe birdsong into music. The work has five sections: Prelude, The Dove, The Hen, The Nightingale and The Cuckoo.


Felix Mendelssohn: Symphony No.4 in A major
Georg Solti conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

George Frideric Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks
Martin Pearlman conducts Boston Baroque

Frederic Chopin: Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor
Piano: Maurizio Pollini
Paul Kletzki conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra

Ottorino Respighi: The Birds
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra