This February, the RNCM Symphony Orchestra will be joined by forward-thinking organist Anna Lapwood and acclaimed conductor Anu Tali for an evening of specially selected symphonic works, including Camille Saint-Saëns’s famed Organ Symphony.
Camille Saint-Saëns completed his Organ Symphony in 1886, when a wave of musical impressionism was breaking in France. But Saint-Saëns was not of this ilk; rather he was one of the last French composers who followed in the Austro-Germanic tradition of symphonic writing, infused with his own distinctive colours. But that’s not to say that he wasn’t looking to the future; his Third Symphony is packed with innovations for the time, from its disregard for old structures to its introduction of the piano as well as the organ to the orchestra.
“I gave everything to it I was able to give”, said the composer about this work. “What I have here accomplished I will never achieve again”. The symphony is in great hands with gifted organist Anna Lapwood, currently Director of Music at Pembroke College, Cambridge, as well as Anu Tali, one of the most captivating conductors on the international scene today.
Alongside the Saint-Saëns work, we’ll hear two other pieces by French composers, the first being Allegro Feroce by Augusta Holmès’ – a composer who wrote powerful, grandiose works at a time when women were expected to write only songs and salon pieces. Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major also subverted expectations of its time with its light-hearted, frivolous tone (unusual for a concerto) mixing jazz age energy and classical European grace. In contrast, the final piece of the evening will be a stormy work by Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür, entitled Le poids des vies non vécues. Tüür’s works combine and contrast musical opposites – tonality versus atonality, regular repetitive rhythms versus irregular complex rhythms, tranquil meditativeness versus explosive theatricality.
The concert, which takes place in the RNCM Concert Hall on 4 February, is set to be a highlight of the College’s Early Spring Season, and tickets are now on sale via the button below.