Tuesday 5 February 2013

Cyril Scott premiere - CUMS in London

The Cambridge Music Society (CUMS) Symphony Orchestra is coming to London's Cadogan Hall on Friday 15 March 2013 with a rather fascinating programme which includes a Cyril Scott premiere, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition but not in the Ravel orchestration and Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto with Peter Donohoe as soloist. The orchestra will be conducted by Martin Yates, its principal conductor. The CUMS Symphony Orchestra is Cambridge  University’s finest symphony orchestra, drawn from top student instrumentalists in Cambridge.

English composer Cyril Scott (1879 - 1970) studied in Frankfurt-am-Main and was a member of the 'Frankfurt Gang' with Norman O'Neil, Roger Quilter, Percy Grainger and Balfour Gardiner. His concert overture Pelleas and Melisande was written in 1900 and premiered in Frankfurt am Main (at the Frankfurt Palmengarten). The manuscript of the work is in the Percy Grainger Museum in Australia (Grainger was assiduous at collecting manuscripts of the music of his friends). Most of Scott's music written before 1900 was withdrawn by the composer, and in fact Pelleas and Melisande was also withdrawn. (see more at the Cyril Scott website). The work is dedicated to the conductor Willem de Haan (the conductor at the Royal Court Theatre in Darmstadt, home of the Grand Dukes of Hesse) to whom Scott was introduced by the poet Stefan George.

Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition will be played, not in the familiar orchestration by Ravel, but in the one made by Stokowski for the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1939. Stokowksi introduced the Ravel orchestration in Philadelphia in 1929 (7 years after Ravel completed it), but Stokowski felt that Ravel had given the work to Slavic a sound. So, ten years later he produced his own for large orchestra (quadruple woodwind, 8 horns, 4 trumpets and 4 trombones, lots of percussion, two harps and a pipe organ). He also omitted two movements, Tuileries and Limoges, feeling they were too French and that they might have been written by Rimsky-Korsakov. Stokowski made three recordings of the orchestration and it has had other more recent outings on disc including Matthias Bamert and the BBC Philharmonic, Oliver Knussen and the Cleveland Orchestra and Gennady Rozhdestvensky and the USSR State Symphony Orchestra.

The concert is completed by Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto with Peter Donohoe as the soloist. Donohoe was studying at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester when I was a also a student in Manchester and I remember hearing him playing a number of impressive concerts, a couple of Bartok piano concertos stick in the memory. Then in 1982 he took the Silver Medal in the 7th International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow.

Further information from the Cadogan Hall website, and the CUMS website.

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