Henley Symphony Orchestra’s next concert under Music Director Ian Brown takes place in Reading Concert Hall at 4pm on Sunday 18 November. As always, the orchestra has shown its customary ambition, both in its choice of repertoire and of the solo performers who take part.
For this concert the hottest property in the world of French Horn, Ben Goldscheider, has been invited to perform Richard Strauss’s Horn Concerto No 2.
Ben Goldscheider reached the Final of the BBC Young Musician Competition in 2016, since when he has quickly emerged as one of the most exciting horn players of his generation. “Phrasings emerged supremely well-articulated; the notes’ golden flow never stopped” (BBC Young Musician Final 2016, Geoff Brown, The Times). He was named BBC Music Magazine’s “Rising Star” and Gramophone Magazine’s “One to Watch”. This season he will make his Proms debut with the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Written some six decades after its predecessor, Strauss’s lyrical and virtuosic concerto is brimming with the colourful musical language characteristic of Strauss’s maturity. Conductor Norman Del Mar wrote that “…the piece had turned into a singular success from first to last. It is the freedom and originality of form, especially in the opening allegro which reveals the experienced master as compared to the first concerto“. Whilst the outer movements are virtuosic, the middle movement is a “beautifully proportioned miniature and particularly well conceived as a relaxation for the soloist between the exacting outer movements.”
Either side of this piece the HSO will perform Schumann’s Manfred Overture and Sibelius’s Symphony No 1.
Schumann had a love of literature. His powerful Manfred Overture, written as a work of incidental music in response to Byron’s semi-autobiographical poem about the outcast anti-hero, was devised as a ‘dramatic poem with music’. The Overture was completed in 1848 while Schumann was suffering from auditory hallucinations. It consists of an overture (the most highly regarded part of the work) and 15 further numbers that are now seldom performed ̶ entr’acte, melodramas, and several solos and choruses. The first performance took place at the Leipzig Gewandhaus on March 14, 1852. Composer Hugo Wolf remarked that the work “has brought the essence, the focal point of the drama to plastic expression with the simplest strokes.”
Jean Sibelius, considered by many the last master of the grand symphonic tradition, composed his stirring Symphony No 1 in 1899 at the age of 34. It opens with its famous haunting clarinet solo and evolves into a majestic conclusion, reflecting his beloved Finnish countryside. It has been often described as “negligible, but nice” in relation to his mature symphonies. Genuinely symphonic music, based on a conventional four-movement structure, it has similar qualities to those of Finlandia, which was written in the same year with fierce patriotism at a time when Finland was fighting against political pressure from Russia.