29 October 2019: Stravinsky, Bax

Conducted by Philip Ellis

7.30pm, Tuesday 29th October, St John’s Smith Square

Stravinsky: Petrushka (1946 version)
Bax: Symphony No. 3

Imagining a puppet coming to life and exasperating an orchestra, Stravinsky in 1910 commenced work on a Konzertstück for piano and orchestra. On hearing the work in progress Diaghilev realised its theatrical potential for his Ballets Russes and the following year the result was the hugely successful Petrushka. Use of Russian folk tunes in the depictions of the Shrovetide Fair helped reinforce the St Petersburg setting, but tunes from French music hall and parodies of Austrian Joseph Lanner’s dances aid the universal feel of the story of the puppet’s helpless jealousy. It was revised in the USA in 1946 for a more conventional sized orchestra.

Born to an affluent family in Streatham, Arnold Bax was non-conformist, favouring his discovery of Celtic culture over his contemporaries’ interest in English folksong. Living in Ireland made him sympathetic to its independence, composing ‘In Memoriam’ after the British execution of Easter Rising leader Pádraig Pearse and having his poetry anthology ‘In Dublin’ banned by the military censor, so it is perhaps remarkable he was later knighted and appointed Master of the King’s Musick, both of which seemed to amuse rather than interest him. In 1910 he had followed a romantic interest to Russia, but his enrichment by its music and discovery of a love for ballet in St Petersburg was more fruitful for his artistic development. The third symphony was completed in 1929 in what became his annual pilgrimage to the Scottish Highlands, where his interest was beginning to embrace Northern legends.

(Unfortunately we had to make a change to our original programme for this concert due to the unavailability of our soloist, Stephen Bryant. We hope to be able to programme a concert with Stephen in future.)

Tickets available from St John’s Smith Square or directly from members of the orchestra.