Beethoven's Fifth, plus Nielsen and Schumann concertos, at Fraser Noble Hall this Friday

Posted by mjs76 at Feb 14, 2011 04:49 PM |
It is arguably the single most famous musical phrase in classical music: da-da-da-dum! Knighton Chamber Orchestra present Beethoven’s Symphony No.5 and a brace of magnificent concertos on Friday 18 February 2011.

In 1804, with three acclaimed symphonies under his belt, Ludwig van Beethoven started work on a new one. By the time he finished it four years later, he had written three string quartets, a piano concerto, a violin concerto, a piano sonata, a mass and an entire opera. And two other symphonies: the Fourth, which premiered in March 1807, and the Sixth ‘Pastoral’. Numbers Five and Six actually premiered together at a concert in Vienna on 22 December 1808 which must just have been the greatest double bill in the history of classical music.

In fact that 1808 concert was even more impressive: it also included the first performances of the Piano Concerto No.4, an aria from Fidelio, three movements from the Mass in C and the Choral Fantasy plus a solo piano improv piece by Ludwig himself. Four hours of solid Beethoven premieres - crikey.

Knighton Chamber Orchestra aren’t going quite that far when they perform the Symphony No.5 this Friday, in association with Embrace Arts. Instead the set-list includes Carl Nielsen’s Flute Concerto and Schumann’s Piano Concerto.

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Programme for the 1926 premiere of the Nielsen Flute Concerto (image: Wikipedia)

Nielsen wrote his Flute Concerto in 1926 as the first of a proposed series of five concertos for each of the members of the Copenhagen Wind Quintet. The work premiered in Paris in October of that year under the baton of the composer’s son-in-law but ill-health prevented Nielsen from finishing the score in time and he had to tack on a temporary ending. The completed work was first performed in January 1928. Dana Morgan is the soloist for this concerto, which is notable for also featuring some great parts for the bass trombone.

Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor premiered on New Year’s Day 1846 with the composer’s wife Clara at the keyboard. It was Schumann’s fourth attempt at writing a piano concerto; the first three were all unfinished and, ironically, this one started life as something else. It was originally a ‘phantasie for piano and orchestra’ which Clara suggested could be extended a bit and converted into a concerto.

Unusually, the Andantino second movement runs straight into the Allegro vivace third movement without a pause - so don’t be confused if the piece seems to end early. The acclaimed French pianist Francois Salignat rejoins the Knighton Chamber Orchestra for this work, a few years after he performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3 with them.

As ever the orchestra will be conducted by Paul Jenkins, Senior Lecturer in Organic Chemistry. The venue is Fraser Noble Hall on London Road; tickets are £8/£6 from Embrace Arts, the University Bookshop or the Tourist Information Centre in Town Hall Square. The concert begins at 7.30pm.

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