Robin Holloway - Fifth Concerto for Orchestra
R. Strauss - Four Last Songs
Brahms - Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73
The BBC Scottish Symphony orchestra return tonight with Donald Runnicles for Brahms Second Symphony. Dubbed as his ‘Pastoral’ symphony, the themes running and developing through the piece certainly support this, even snippets of his own famous Lullaby noticeable. Brahms however was quick to contradict this, though and throughout you can almost hear a sense of doubt, perhaps left over from his worries over his first symphony (which took him 15 years to write.) The BBC SO tackle the slightly darker, melancholic third movement well, the rich strings a very nice contradiction to the oboes melody. The final movement reasserts the thematic nature of the piece, before it’s rousing ending.
Robin Holloway’s Fifth Concerto for Orchestra is slightly shorter than his last (90 minutes!) and is a good example of how the orchestra can influence the composer. During rehearsals the order of the movements changed, and I would say to great effect, the final movement in particular a much more fitting end than it would have been earlier in the piece. The string and horns compliment each other well, whilst the use of percussion is a good support.
Hillevi Martinpelto disarming lifting soprano lends itself well to Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs. The set seems almost a fine farewell, collected and untroubled, as if Strauss is ordering his thoughts through song, the final words (translated) of this ordering seeming to suggest this:
O vast, tranquil peace,
so deep at sunset!
How weary we are of wandering—
Is this perhaps death?