Monday 13 May 2019

Huw Wakins' Symphony from Kensington Symphony Orchestra

Huw Watkins
Huw Watkins
Huw Watkins' Symphony receives its London premiere tonight (13 May 2019) when the Kensington Symphony Orchestra, conductor Russell Keable, performs the work at Cadogan Hall as part of a programme which also includes Lyadov's The Enchanted Lake and Sibelius' Four Legends from the Kalevala.

Watkins' Symphony was commissioned by the Halle and premiered by them, conductor Sir Mark Elder, in Manchester and Sheffield in 2017. The work is in two movements, it does not strictly adhere to classical symphonic form. Rather, the composer interprets this great tradition through his development of ideas and use of the orchestra. [see Robert Beale's review of the original performance on Bachtrack]. The Symphony, performed by the Halle under Ryan Wigglesworth, features on a 2018 NMC disc of Watkins' symphonic works [see my review].

As a composer, Anatoly Lyadov was associated with Mussorgsky and the Mighty Handful, and studied with Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov, whilst as a teacher Lyadov's pupils included Sergei Prokofiev and Nikolai Myaskovsky. The Enchanted Lake (1909) is one of Lydaov's tone poems based on Russian legends.

Sibelius originally started composing an heroic opera based on the Finnish epic poem, the Kalevala, but changed direction and created a suite of four tone poems, The Lemminkäinen Suite or Four Legends from the Kalevala in 1895. The first two movements were withdrawn by the composer shortly after the premiere and only revised in the 1930s. As a result, the final two movements are best known 'The Swan of Tuonela' and 'Lemminkäinen's Return' and the Kensington Symphony Orchestra's performance is a rare chance to hear all four together.

Further information from the Kensington Symphony Orchestra website,  and the Cadogan Hall website.

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