Christopher Morley's Classical Preview...
After its disappointing postponement four years ago, Sir John Tavener's Tribute to Cavafy receives its world premiere at Symphony Hall tomorrow evening [see inter-view with Peter Phillips below].
Commissioned by the hall, and scored for narrator, soprano soloist, chorus and percussion (bells and large Tibetan temple bowl), the work draws on the writings of the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy, with some of its seven movements in the original Greek and the rest in English translation.
In Tavener's own words, "the music is at once tragic, grand and solemn, with a deep lyrical pathos." He also describes how there is a certain amount of movement between the singers as they separate into groups for distancing effects, adding that the speaker (Vanessa Redgrave here) "must convey the magnificence and grandeur appropriate to Epic Tragedy."
Joining Redgrave for this performance are the soprano Sarah Connolly and the Tallis Scholars directed by Peter Phillips. Phillips also directs his choir in the UK premiere of the Missa Tempore Paschali, the most substantial Mass by
the Flemish composer Nicolas Gombert (c.1495 - c.1560). This fascinating concert begins at 7.30pm, with a free pre-performance discussion between Peter Phillips and Sir John Tavener at 6.15.
Tomorrow lunchtime, meanwhile, Sakari Oramo relinquishes his music director's baton and sits down democratically with some of his CBSO players for a mouthwatering concert in the popular CBSO Players Centre Stage series in their Berkley Street home base. Schoenberg's voluptuous, late-romantic string sextet Verklarte Nacht ("Transfigured Night") is coupled with Mozart's ethereal Clarinet Quintet (1.10pm, details on 0121 750 4050).
Having rediscovered his first love, the violin, Oramo dusts it off again on Saturday evening for the CBSO's all-Mozart concert at Symphony Hall celebrating the great Austrian
composer's 250th birthday next Friday. Oramo is soloist in the ravishing E major Adagio for Violin and Orchestra, orchestral second violin-ist (and CBSO assistant conductor) Michael Seal conducting. Either side of this, Oramo takes up the baton for two of Mozart's warmest masterpieces, the B-flat Serenade for 13 instruments and the Symphony no. 39 in E-flat major (7pm).
More CBSO at Symphony Hall comes on Wednesday in a programme strangely subtitled "Burns Night", when the works on offer have connections with ancient Mexico (Carlos Chavez's vivid Sinfonia India) and Spain (Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole, with Olivier Charlier as soloist); the Scottish link comes with Mendelssohn's powerful and atmospheric Symphony no.3, the Scottish.
The conductor for this delightful lesson in musical geography is Gustavo Dudamel, the young Venezuelan who wowed Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra audiences at Symphony Hall and the Royal Albert Hall Proms last summer when he stood in at short notice for the indisposed Neeme Jarvi. I wrote then that tickets for his CBSO debut would be like golddust, and for all I know they may well be on offer on ebay by now (7.30pm, pre-concert talk on Chavez at 6.15pm. All Symphony Hall details on 0121 780 3333).
Running alongside Mozart quarter-millennium celebrations this year are those marking the centenary of the birth of Shostakovich, and Saturday night's Birmingham Chamber Music Society concert at the Adrian Boult Hall brings the opportunity to hear one of his lesser-known pieces, the String Quartet no.7. The programme, shared between the St Petersburg (whose complete recording for Hyperion of all 15 Shostakovich quartets I recently reviewed) and Wihan Quartets, begins with Dvorak's colourful American Quartet and concludes with Mendelssohn's wonderful, life-enhancing Octet (7.30pm, details on 0121 303 2323).
Shostakovich chamber music can also be heard at Abbotsholme School near Rocester (Uttoxeter) on Monday, when the Emperor Piano Trio performs the Russian composer's Piano Trio no.2; trios by Beethoven and Dvorak complete the programme (8pm, details on 01543 263304).
Finally, the excellent Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra is on its travels this week, performing its programme of Film Music at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall on Sunday (7.30pm, 0121 308 4126) and at Walsall Town Hall on Wednesday (7.30pm, 01922 625540). Michael Lloyd conducts. ..SUPL: