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Saturday 29th March 2014  7.30
Guest conductor:  Levon Parikian

6.30pm: Pre-concert talk by Richard Moore about Malcolm Arnold’s compositions featuring wind instruments, including the Clarinet Concerto No 2

Overture Hansel and Gretel Humperdinck

Clarinet Concerto No 2 – Malcolm Arnold
Soloist: Robert Blanken

Symphony No 6 in B minor, Pathétique Tchaikovsky

Hansel and Gretel, a well-loved fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers, was made into an opera by 19th Century German composer Engelbert Humperdinck in 1891 and 1892.  It was first performed in Weimar in 1893, conducted by the 29 year old Richard Strauss, an instant hit which became an enduring favourite.  The Overture is full of delightful folk tunes for everyone to enjoy.

A love of jazz was the inspiration for both of Malcolm Arnold’s clarinet concerti.  The Northampton-born Arnold was a trumpeter himself but wrote brilliantly for all wind instruments.  The Clarinet Concerto No 2 was commissioned in 1974 by Benny Goodman, who had previously premiered Arnold’s first clarinet concerto in 1967.  Our brilliant principal clarinettist, Rob Blanken, is sure to entertain in this twentieth century masterpiece.

We then return to 1893, the year in which Tchaikovsky completed his last great work, the sixth Symphony, known as the Pathétique.  The symphony is full of passion and emotion, and its dark mood acquired even greater significance when the composer died just nine days after its premiere.  Fate, life and death were recurring themes for Tchaikovsky and were never more present than in this final symphonic offering.

Robert Blanken

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