Preview: BSO’s Pastoral Brahms

Thursday marks another return to Exeter by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. This time they bring three tightly linked, 19th-century, central European pieces; a departure from their more disparate juxtapositions recently performed this season. Clemens Schuldt, who has worked in the past with the London Symphony Orchestra and Simon Rattle, will be conducting, ‘Pastoral Brahms’. Soloing is violinist Baiba Skride, whose list of personal awards, almost entirely first prizes at international festivals, is truly remarkable.

Dvorak’s Violin Concerto is ever-popular amongst concert-goes, yet the chance to hear it played by such a prestigious violinist is exceptional. Written in 1878, it was intended to be dedicated to violinist Joseph Joachim, who is, by his association with all three of the evening’s composers, what ties these pieces together. Indeed, without his introduction of Brahms to Robert and Clara Schumann, it is unlikely that either Brahms or the Schumanns would have produced work that is regarded in the esteem that it is today.

Robert Schumann’s Manfred Overture is the opening section of a piece based on Byron’s poem Manfred, which the composer greatly admired. Written at the time of the 1848 revolutions, whilst suffering severe mental health issues, and before the start of his friendship with Brahms, the piece comes at one of the more turbulent times of the composer’s perpetually turbulent life.

For the less academically inclined, it may be a welcome relief to know that Brahms’s Symphony No.2, the titular Pastoral, whilst maintaining the musical erudition typical of the composer, is the lightest of his symphonies. The jolliness and warmth of its countryside themes give ample opportunity for the orchestra to challenge, and hopefully dispel, the chilly Devon air.

Ben Britton

Photo Credits: Eric Richmond

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