Preview: BSO’s ‘Elgar Cello Eulogy’ @ The Great Hall

After the resounding success of their ‘Heroes & Monsters’ concert last week, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are once again coming to Exeter this Wednesday to bring you the works of Wagner, Elgar, and Dvořák.

‘Everything good and nice and clean and fresh and sweet is far away – never to return’ wrote Edward Elgar after peace was declared across Europe in 1918. The Great War had exacted a toll on Elgar and the world that is reflected with beautiful sensitivity in his Cello Concerto. The title for the evening draws on the elegiac nature of the piece, mourning for a world, an idea of innocence and beauty, encapsulated by Phillip Larkin’s 1964 poem ‘MCMXIV’, in particular the heart-breaking final stanza, and the closing line: ‘never such innocence again’.

BSO 22nd Preview

Taking on the burden of interpreting this deeply expressive and emotional piece is the guest solo cellist Leonard Elschenbroich, dubbed ‘a musician of great technical prowess, intellectual curiosity and expressive depth’ by the New York Times. Playing a 1693 Venetian Matteo Goffiller cello, Elschenbroich has accrued a substantial reputation internationally as the winner of a great roster of awards and accolades, as well as a long list of collaborating orchestras and conductors, including the BSO’s own Kirill Karabits. Among this list of orchestras, Elschenbroich has played with the Royal Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic and Symphony, St. Petersberg Philharmonic, among many others.

The politically problematic Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll is the second piece of the evening. First performed in 1869 as a celebration of the birth of his son Siegfried, the ‘symphonic poem’ was later assimilated into his famous opera Siegfried. The other highlight of the evening alongside Elgar’s Cello Concerto is the full recitation of Dvořák’s masterpiece, his ninth symphony, or, the ‘New World’ symphony.

Commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Dvořák’s popular masterpiece was completed and premiered in 1893, and incorporates themes and motifs inspired by the varying cultures that Dvořák observed in America. Playing on the pentatonic scales that he identified as being characteristic of Native American, African-American, and, perhaps surprisingly, Scottish music, Dvořák constructed a symphony that conveys the beautiful, changeling landscape of America, with all its mystery and opportunity. Leading the BSO for the evening is internationally respected German conductor Christoph König. His career has included stints with the Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música and a wide range of guest conductorships. He currently serves as the Principal Conductor and Musical Director for the Solistes Européens in Luxembourg. König is also making returns this season to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bremen Philharmoniker, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

There are still tickets available for the performance, ranging in price from £16 to £40. The concert begins at 7:30pm in the University Great Hall. If you’re aged between 18-25, I urge you to take advantage of the BSO’s ‘Vibes’ programme, which offers £5 tickets to concerts at Lighthouse Poole, Great Hall Exeter, Portsmouth Guildhall, and Bournemouth Pavilion. For more information, and to register for a ‘Vibes’ card, please visit: https://www.bsolive.com/vibes/

– by Thomas Gordon-Colebrooke

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