Sunday 25 November 2012

London Symphony Orchestra explorations

The London Symphony Orchestra's Winter Season now on, includes some rather interesting concentrations on individual artists and composers. They are having a mini Szymanowski festival with Valery Gergiev conducting Szymanowski's 3rd and 4th symphonies, plus the 2nd violin concerto, and groups of concerts devoted violinist Leonidas Kavakos and composers Mark Antony Turnage and John Adams.

Szymanowski's 3rd Symphony, Song of the Night, is a setting of a poem by the 13th century Persian mystic Rumi, celebrating the beauties of the night, written in 1914-16, when the composer was travelling Eastern Europe. It is written for large orchestra, chorus (often wordless) and tenor solo, with organ and piano to add to the mix.

His 4th symphony also includes piano, but here rather than an orchestral instrument it is a concertante one.  Denis Matsuev will be playing the impossible piano part, requiring the player to cut through Szymanowski's large orchestra. Finally Leonidas Kavakos will be playing the 2nd violin concerto.

Leonidas Kavakos is the subject of an LSO Artist Portrait, so that in addition to Szymanowski, Kavakos performs the Berg violin concerto tonight and the Sibelius violin concerto in December, plus a recital programme with Janacek, Brahms and Stravinsky with Respighi's violin sonata to add a little bit of variety, something not often performed.

Mark Antony Turnage also has a portrait, with three works spread over three concerts, with his Trumpet Concerto, with Hakan Hardenberger, the world premiere of Speranza (an LSO commission) conducted by Daniel Harding. Then Gwilym Simcock and the LSO String Ensemble will perform Turnage's A Prayer Out of Stillness (with John Patitucci on double bass and bass guitar), plus a new work by Simcock himself.

In January it is the turn of John Adams, with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain playing his Guide to Strange Places (a BBC co-commission first performed in 2001), along with Britten's Four Sea Interludes and Holst's The Planets - a great concert. The LSO with Dawn Upshaw and Adams himself conducting perform Adam's orchestrations of Debussy plus Harmonielehre, then in a pair of chamber concerts we get his String Quartet, Shaker Loops and Absolute Jest for String Quartet and Orchestra.

And finally a little jazz, well orchestra-folk-jazz crossover with Kirstian Jarvi and the Theodosii Spassov Trio. They are a Balkan group, in case you are wondering!

Further information from the LSO website.

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