We are at back at the Proms, this time travelling back to 2017, with conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with a thrilling program of Beethoven, Stravinsky, and the World Premiere of a new BBC Commission by Gerald Barry. The concert opens with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture to the opera Fidelio. Often, overtures take on the name of the opera but Beethoven had initially intended for the opera to be named after the heroine that in fact, the libretto and vocal score were first published under the title Leonore. Beethoven wrote four overtures to Fidelio, as the first three never felt like the right fit for opening the opera. While the fourth overture has maintained its position opening Fidelio, Leonore No. 3, while managing to distil the opera almost perfectly, felt too powerful as an overture and became a standalone piece, as we hear it today. After Leonore, Leila Josefowicz takes to the stage for Stravkinsky’s Violin Concerto. Opening the piece with a chord that Stravinsky has called “the passport to this concerto”, Josefowicz sets the scene. While some parts might strike you as reminiscent of his ballets, this violin concerto is much lighter and more playful, becoming representative of what we know recognise as a style of classical music “neo-classical”. Gerald Barry’s Canada, a BBC commission and world premiere, was inspired by the Prisoners’ Chorus from Beethoven’s Fidelio. Written in Toronto while waiting for a longhaul flight, the Irish composer reflected on the simultaneous familiarity and foreignness that he felt in Canada. This piece is a setting Fidelio’s Prisoners’ Chorus for voice and orchestra, using text in English, French and German, featuring Allan Clayton as tenor and narrator, who delivers the text with contrasting characters ranging from certainty to confusion and expressions that often betray the feeling of the music that sits underneath him, causing some laughter in the audience. The music feels familiar, but at the same time jarring, with seemingly many things going on at the same time. Finally, the orchestra finishes with Beethoven’s most well-known symphony, Symphony No. 5 in C minor. Under the baton of Gražinytė-Tyla, this performance of Beethoven 5 has a sense of urgency and excitement, building tension with each crescendo. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is the principle guest conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and has worked with a range of world-class orchestras, including the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Deutsche Radiophilharmonie and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. PROGRAM: BEETHOVEN Overture ‘Leonore’ No. 3, Op. 72 STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto GERALD BARRY Canada BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C minor FEATURING: LEILA JOSEFOWICZ violin ALLAN CLAYTON tenor MIRGA GRAŽINYTĖ-TYLA conductor
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