Dorchester Concert Autumn 2019

Our Autumn Concert 2019 is on 16th November 2019 at the Dorford Centre, Dorchester.

Arturo Serna, charismatic conductor, prize winning cellist and inspirational teacher returns to the podium to conduct:

Beethoven. The Creatures of Prometheus Op. 43

This short and powerful overture was the introduction to the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus. In which Prometheus is punished for stealing the fire from the gods and giving life to two statues. The ballet had 28 performance, being the longest performed scenic production in Beethoven’s life. However, today only the overture and some references written by Beethoven survive. Sadly the whole score and libretto have been lost.

Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No 3

Saint-Saens impressed the audience during his debut as pianist at the Salle Pleyel in Paris with pieces by Mozart and offering to perform any one of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas. He was ten years old. On top of that he studied Latin, astronomy, archaeology, geology and got into Paris Conservatoire at thirteen. Not bad!

The 3rd violin Concerto was written in 1880 and premiered by the virtuoso Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate in 1881. At a time when French composers were writing mainly opera and ballet, Saint Saens smartly rebelled against this trend. He dedicated all his efforts instead on creating concertos.

The first movement is written on an obsessive sequence of four notes in minor key. The tremolo accompaniment in the orchestra provides numerous opportunities for the soloist to play with a great freedom. The strongly operatic and dramatic nature of the piece gives the impression of being a succession of arias and recitativos. The treatment of the pointed accompaniment in the woodwind and brass during the recitativo passages and the exquisite harmony writing in the horn parts during the second aria-like theme provide a striking contrast between passion and delicate melodies.

The second movement is build on the soothing barcarolle rhythm (known as Sicilienne in France) It provides a succession of gentle and passionate dialogues between the soloist and different sections from the orchestra; especially the woodwind. It finishes with a lush solo from the oboe and a mystical duet between the violin and the clarinet.

The last movement has a distinct Spanish colour. In here the composer retakes  the operatic recitativo writing from the first movement. This time however it is a solo recitativo with a tremolo lurking from the orchestra towards the end of it. Its character is unreservedly bright, strong and warm. The second theme is passionate and charming. The switch to very quiet dynamic sweetens the atmosphere. Tender melodies and explosive Spanish themes provide a brilliant finale to the piece. The concerto grew to be a great favourite and is widely performed today throughout the world.

Brahms Symphony 3

The third Symphony was premiered in 1883 and according to the critics it is the best crafted of his symphonies.

It is not a secret that Brahms is viewed as the second Beethoven in the history of music. As does Beethoven in his 8th Symphony, Brahms places the beginning of the phrases on the second beats throughout the entire movement. Furthermore, the conductor who premiered the Symphony praised the symphony as ‘Brahms’ Eroica‘. The first is the most demanding out of the four movements. The Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink says that there is a minefield in every single bar. The movement shows the constant conflict between major and minor keys and provides extreme dynamic range and lyrical melodies.

The second movement is inspired on folk songs (as most of Brahms’ music). Throughout this movement Brahms shows high mastery in balancing the voices by placing the melody very high above the accompaniment lines. Brahms delightful melodies are combined with mysterious sections and gorgeous climaxes enhanced by his use of triplets against duplets quavers.

The third is probably the best known movement from this symphony. Instead of the habitual 19th century Scherzo or Minuetto – Trio – Minuetto, Brahms wrote a unique movement of sad nature that unfolds at a moderate speed. The main theme is exposed 6 times by different sections from the orchestra, being the last time the climatic point of the movement. Mysterious sections and gentle major lines succeed each other, enhancing the conflict between major and minor key.

Brahms pours his genius throughout the last movement. It borrows the quiet nature from the preceding movement but very soon the passion erupts in explosive bursts from the brass. The movement is written with a rich melodic content that is unreservedly developed and altered. There is a short section of mysterious nature in which the woodwind play long notes and the strings perform pianissimo fast tremolo that would be easily be written in a piece of contemporary music. The mosaic nature shows deep care and mastery in orchestration as well as a tendency to push the boundaries. Brahms even includes a quotation from Schumann’s Rhenish Symphony towards the end of the movement. The symphony fades away with nostalgic feeling into a final major chord

Piotr Kopec is soloist in the Saint-Saens Concerto. Piotr studied violin at Trinity College of Music in London. In recent years he has performed all of the major violin concertos and is a member of several string quartets. He plays a 1673 Andrea Guarneri violin, kindly on loan from Felicity Belfield.