Winter Concert 2021

Saturday 27 November 2021
St David's Church,
Queen’s Terrace, Exeter
Time: 7.30pm
Tickets: £15; Under 18s £1

Buy tickets

Winter Concert 2021

La Clemenza di Tito - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Peer Gynt Suite No 2 - Edvard Grieg

Karelia Suite - Jean Sibelius

Symphony No 2 - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

La Clemenza di Tito - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

La Clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus), K. 621, is an opera in two acts composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the last year of his life to an Italian libretto by Caterino Mazzolà. La Clemenza di Tito was commissioned for the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia. The Overture to Clemenza has not found a conspicuous place in the concert hall but has remained on the fringes of the repertoire — a fate it does not deserve. Its music is fresh and vital, having that elegance and flair which seemed as natural to Mozart as breathing. The overture’s fanfare-like opening and its sparkling nature perhaps owes more to the grandeur of the occasion for which it was composed than it does as a foretaste of the opera’s subsequent melodies. Mozart had barely a month in which to complete the opera, but, accustomed as he was to rush jobs, the first performance took place at the appointed time. Clemenza was not a success, either with the Imperial Highnesses or with the public. In fact, the Empress, assuming the role of music critic gave her judgement in an extremely brief review, to wit, “German rubbish.” Later performances did win public approval, although in present-day opera houses, where Figaro, Così, and Magic Flute are standard fare, Clemenza is still an infrequent visitor, perhaps unfairly.

Peer Gynt Suite No 2 - Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg (1843–1907) was one of the most influential leaders of Scandinavian music. Although composing many short piano pieces and chamber works, the work Grieg did for Henrik Ibsen's play is amongst his most well known. Originally creating 90 minutes of orchestral music for the play, he later returned to extract certain sections for the suites. When Ibsen asked Grieg to write music for his play in 1874, he reluctantly agreed. However, it was much more difficult for Grieg than he imagined. "Peer Gynt progresses slowly," he wrote to a friend in August 1874, "and there is no possibility of having it finished by autumn. It is a terribly unmanageable subject." For many years, the suites were the only parts of the music that were available, as the original score was not published until 1908, one year after Grieg's death, by Johan Halvorsen. The Second Suite Suite No. 2, Op. 55. was published in 1893. It has four movements. 1. The Abduction of the Bride. Ingrid's Lament 2. Arabian Dance 3. Peer Gynt's Homecoming (Stormy Evening on the Sea) 4. Solveig's Song (Solveigs sang) (Originally, the second suite had a fifth number, The Dance of the Mountain King's Daughter, but Grieg withdrew it.)

Karelia Suite - Jean Sibelius

Sibelius held fervent views about his country’s position under Russian dominance. In his late twenties, he became passionate about the micro-nationalist importance of a particular area of Finland, thought to be the home of the oldest and most respected aspects of Finnish culture. This area was the Karelia region. A large part of Karelia lay in Russia, but the fact that part of it was in Finland’s eastern tip (focused on Vyborg) was one of the reasons that Sibelius accepted a commission to provide music for the students of Helsinki University, in Vyborg. Sibelius conducted the Karelian Music at its premiere on 13 November 1893 at the Imperial Alexander University in Helsinki. He mentioned in a letter that "You couldn’t hear a single note of the music – everyone was on their feet cheering and clapping". Ten days later, Sibelius conducted a popular concert that included the Overture, followed by the three movements that would become the Karelia Suite.

Symphony No 2 - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 17 was composed in 1872. One of Tchaikovsky's joyful compositions, it was successful right from its premiere. Because Tchaikovsky used three Ukrainian folk songs to great effect in this work, it was nicknamed the "Little Russian" as the Ukraine was sometimes known as Little Russia. . Tchaikovsky wrote down these tunes in his sketchbook after hearing peasants sing them while he was on vacation at the family home in Kamenka. Despite its initial success, Tchaikovsky was not satisfied with the symphony. He revised the work extensively in 1879–80, substantially rewriting the opening movement and shortening the finale. This revision is the version of the symphony usually performed today, although there have also been supporters of the original version. The Second is Tchaikovsky's shortest symphony, but what makes this music distinctive is the use of folktunes for some of its themes. Rimsky-Korsakov in particular was impressed when Tchaikovsky played this music for him on the piano shortly before the premiere. "When I was in Petersburg I played the finale one evening at Rimsky-Korsakov's, and the whole company almost tore me to pieces with rapture, and Mrs Korsakova begged me in tears to let her arrange it for four hands", Tchaikovsky proudly told his brother Modest in February 1873