At the LSO, we are proud to have been Classic FM’s Orchestra in the City of London for over 17 years. Each season, a selection of our concerts come recommended by Classic FM. Here’s our round-up of spring's Classic FM recommended concerts and a look at where the music, performers and more sit in the LSO’s history.
Thursday 9 January: Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
with Nathalie Stutzmann & Alina Ibragimova
First up in Spring, and the LSO’s first Barbican concert of 2020: Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. The concerto has amassed a vast discography of recordings, but it wasn’t until 1951 that the LSO made their first, with Gioconda De Vito as soloist and Malcolm Sargent conducting. Over ten years later, in June 1964, it was recorded live in concert at the Royal Albert Hall, with Colin Davies conducting Yehudi Menuhin as soloist. Another recording with Yehudi Menuhin came seven years later, this time with Rafael Fruehbeck de Burgos conducting both the Violin Concerto in E minor and the Concerto in D minor.
And of course, the LSO's 1972 recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with Itzahk Perlman and André Previn is thoroughly deserving of a mention, not least for this fantastic album artwork:
Wednesday 15 January: Beethoven Symphony No 7
with Sir Simon Rattle
Over the years, the LSO has made numerous recordings of Beethoven’s Symphony No 7, from the Orchestra’s first published recording of the Symphony in 1923, conducted by Felix Weingartner, to the more recent 2005 recording for LSO Live, captured live in concert for Bernard Haitink’s acclaimed Beethoven Symphony cycle.
Even more recently than that, in 2010, the Orchestra recorded excerpts of the Seventh Symphony for The King’s Speech. It is one of a long list of filmography credits that the LSO has under its belt. Way back in 1935, Muir Mathieson commissioned Sir Arthur Bliss to compose a full orchestral score for the film adaptation of H G Wells’ Things to Come, with Mathieson describing the LSO as ‘the perfect film orchestra’. Over 80 years later, millions around the world have heard the Orchestra's signature sound on film scores from Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark to Harry Potter and Notting Hill.
Wednesday 12 February: Beethoven ‘Choral’ Symphony
with Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Chorus
Who wouldn't recognise the choral finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with the words of Friedrich Schiller's Ode to Joy? A great choral finale needs a great chorus – cue the London Symphony Chorus. Founded in 1966 to complement the LSO's work, over 50 years later, the Chorus maintains a close relationship with the LSO, with Sir Simon as President and Simon Halsey as joint Chorus Director of the LSC and Choral Director of the LSO. It consists of over 160 amateur singers from all walks of life, and also plays a huge role in the LSO Sing initiative.
Saturday 7 March: Family Concert How to Build an Orchestra
from LSO Discovery
The first LSO Family Concert was back in 1994. Now programmed three times throughout the year, Family Concerts present Orchestral music in a fun, informative and interactive way, specifically designed for children aged 7 to 12 (and parents, of course). There are even free activities and workshops across the Barbican before the concert, to get you in the musical mood. LSO Family Concerts are just one of many strings to LSO Discovery's bow, which in 2020 celebrates 30 years of world-leading music education and community work!
Sunday 15 March: Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
with Sir Antonio Pappano
Since its inception, the LSO has given a huge number of first performances, and Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis was one of them! Over 100 years ago, in 1910, the Orchestra gave the world premiere at the annual Three Choirs Festival, held that year at Gloucester Cathedral, with the composer himself conducting.
The work has been voted in the top five in Classic FM’s annual ‘Hall of Fame’ time and time again, and takes its name from the original composer of the melody. Vaughan Williams wanted to mimic the sound of an organ with his orchestration – the score indicates there should be a second orchestra (made up of a single desk from each section) placed apart from the first.
Wednesday 18 March: Half Six Fix Bartók’s Dance Suite and The Wooden Prince
with François-Xavier Roth
Half Six Fix concerts were first introduced in 2017, coinciding with Sir Simon Rattle's inaugural season as Music Director. Nearing the end of March, François-Xavier Roth is conductor-turned-presenter for the fourth Half Six Fix of the 2019/20 season, with an hour of folk-infused music from a composer who 'has always fascinated [him]'. We won't reveal too much about the repertoire now, as that is what Half Six Fix is all about. Direct from the stage, Roth will give the audience his own insight into what makes these pieces so special. There's no interval, just a short burst of music to kick-start the evening. Plus audiences can delve deeper with screens showing close-ups and electronic programme notes on your phone, and even take drinks into the Hall.
Sunday 29 March: Elgar Violin Concerto
with Sir Mark Elder & Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider
Considered to be Elgar’s last great popular success among audiences, the Violin Concerto was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society of London in 1909. Elgar himself was a violinist, but found himself reaching out to W.H ‘Billy’ Reed, then leader of the LSO, for technical advice on bowing, passage-work and fingerings. The concerto was premiered by the Orchestra in 1910, with the legendary Fritz Kreisler. The following year, Elgar went on to become the LSO’s Principal Conductor. In March, over a century later, soloist Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider will perform on the very same violin that Kreisler used for the premiere of Elgar’s Violin Concerto!
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