Lamb & Hayward Curator's Series


Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048 (1721) — Britten Lachrymae - ‘Reflections on a song of Dowland’ — Elgar Sospiri — Prokofiev Classical Symphony

Benjamin Northey Chief Conductor — Serenity Thurlow Viola

The Brandenburg Concerti of Johann Sebastian Bach reflect the dreadful musical realities of the time: composers, even prosperous and brilliant ones such as Bach, were at the mercy of the aristocracy. The six Brandenburg concerti were written, in effect, as a musical job application or instrumental résumé.

Lachrymae is Benjamin Britten’s only mature piece for viola and piano and was written for the eminent viola player William Primrose. In 1975, Britten orchestrated the piano part for strings to create a concertante piece.

Among Elgar’s instrumental miniatures the one entitled Sospiri (“Sighs”) holds a special place by virtue of its thoughtful intensity and is a musical tribute to two of Elgar’s dearest friends.

The Classical Symphony interconnects the tradition of simplicity and formality with the renegade temperament of Prokofiev’s early compositions. The symphony is full of Haydn-esque qualities and references to the Classical practice of alternating opposites: loud and soft, high and low etc.

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