Thursday November 9 at the Great Hall, Exeter University, at 7.30pm
On Thursday 9 November, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra brings a deeply moving concert to the Great Hall, Exeter featuring works from Elgar, Ravel and Vaughan Williams.
Britain’s favourite piece of classical music, The Lark Ascending, is framed by two beautiful works dealing with the emotions of the First World War.
The BSO, under guest conductor Richard Farnes, will be joined by internationally renowned violinist Jack Liebeck. Gramophone said of Jack, “His playing is virtually flawless in its technical ease, scintillating articulateness and purity of tone.”
Opening the concert will be Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin. In musical tradition a ‘tombeau’ is a memorial piece or collection of pieces, but the literal translation of Le Tombeau de Couperin is ‘Couperin’s grave’.
Francois Couperin was an important French composer who wrote elegant harpsichord dances. As well as being a dedication to Couperin, this piece is Ravel’s personal memorial to friends lost in the Great War, with each movement dedicated to a fallen comrade.
However, the work does not talk directly about the WW1 at all; rather it focuses on eternal values, such as beauty, elegance, things we want to preserve, which are the opposite of the War.
The Lark Ascending is top in the Classic Hall of Fame, meaning that it is Britain’s favourite piece of classical music. Vaughan Williams wrote this piece in 1914, but the outbreak of the First World War meant that he had to put its premiere on hold.
It wasn’t until 1921 that The Lark Ascending was first performed, featuring violinist Marie Hall – the woman for whom Williams had written it. This loved and enduring Romance opens almost imperceptibly out of which the ‘lark’ takes wing, rising, undulating, and falling.
Midway through, Williams treats us to an orchestra section that seems to borrow from his love of folk songs; it is not long though until the lark returns and its melody entwines itself around the orchestra before breaking free.
The Lark Ascending has a strong association with pastoral English landscape, this perhaps has distanced audiences from the serious themes Williams had in mind when he wrote it on the ever of war in 1914.
Elgar’s Symphony No.2 was completed 28 February 1911 and premiered later that year at the London Music Festival. Elgar described his second symphony as the “passionate pilgrimage of the soul”, suggesting the music’s predominantly restless and tragic character. The dedication to No.2 reads: “Dedicated to the memory of His late Majesty King Edward VII.
This symphony, designed early 1910 to be a loyal tribute, bears its present dedication with the gracious approval of His Majesty the King.” Symphony No.2 reflects the time in which it was written – a study of conflict and paradox; exuberance followed by depression, gregariousness followed by withdrawal, optimism giving way to resigned fatalism and a deep nostalgia for vanished times.
Ticket Prices: £40 / £34 / £26 / £22 / £16
To Book Tickets: Please visit BSOlive.com or visit or call the Exeter Northcott Theatre on 01392 726363
Philip R Buttall