The Full Works Concert – Wednesday 29 May: English Discoveries

In tonight's Concert, Jane Jones shares some of her recent discoveries from the pens of English composers.

Tonight's concert of English Discoveries opens with the little-known Folk Song of the Four Seasons which Ralph Vaughan Williams initially wrote as a choral piece in 1949 for the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. The composer's assistant Roy Douglas made an orchestral suite from the work. The pieces range from beautifully quiet to rhythmic and flowing, while the last movement includes a Christmas tune most will recognise. All wonderfully played this evening by Martin Yates and the RSNO.

Michael Nyman's Piano Concerto is based on the music the composer wrote for the film, The Piano. First premiered in September 1993, Nyman described the concerto as a 'reconsideration' of the film's music 'to create a more coherent structure', elaborate upon the texture for full orchestra, and to make the piano part more virtuosic.

King Arthur was a 'semi-opera' in five acts with music by Henry Purcell that was first performed in 1691. It's a semi-opera because the principal characters do not sing, unless they are somehow supernatural, pastoral or drunk! In tonight's concert, the trumpeter Alison Balsom joins organist Quentin Thomas to play four pieces from King Arthur.

The concert finishes with Elgar's magisterial Symphony No.2 in E flat major. The composer called it "the passionate pilgrimage of the soul" and dedicated it to the memory of King Edward VII. Elgar put his all into this work, saying to a friend, "I have written out my soul in the concerto, Symphony No. 2 and the Ode and you know it ... in these three works I have shewn myself. Tonight we hear a great recording from Leonard Slatkin conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra.


Ralph Vaughan Williams: Folk Songs of the Seasons – Suite
Martin Yates conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra 

Michael Nyman: Piano Concerto
Piano: John Lenehan
Takuo Yuasa conducts the Ulster Orchestra 

Henry Purcell: Music From King Arthur
Trumpet: Alison Balsom
Organ: Quentin Thomas 

Edward Elgar: Symphony No.2 in E flat major
Leonard Slatkin conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra