RPO Soloists - 1 November: programme

Saturday 1 November, 7:30pm

Strauss: Capriccio
Brahms: B Flat Sextet
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence

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A superb evening of high Romanticism awaits!

Extracts from programme notes:

It is telling that Brahms's first mature venture into chamber music for strings came not in the form of a string quartet but in the virtually unprecedented shape of a string sextet. In contrast to the moreprogressive Romantic movement of his day, spearheaded by Liszt and Wagner, Brahms was a composer on whom the weight of Beethoven's legacy weighed heavily. He was unwilling, especially in the early part of his career, to take too readily to the genres in which his illustrious predecessor had excelled, such as the symphony and string quartet. And the significance of the opus number of the sextet, the same as that of Beethoven's first group of quartets, would not have been lost on him.

Clio Gould, Leader of the RPO
Paradoxically, the addition of an extra viola and cello creates a texture which is generally more transparent than that which Brahms preferred in his later string quartets. The composer often writes for the instruments in pairs or in groups of three, and allows himself to exploit more fully the melodic possibilities of the first viola and first cello.

With the benefit of hindsight, Richard Strauss represents something of an enigma for today's listener. In one sense he was the true heir to Richard Wagner, continuing in his mould-breaking super-Romantic vein with a series of innovative orchestral tone poems, such as Don Juan and Ein Heldenleben; then, in the second half of his career, turning his attention almost exclusively to opera, extending and refining Wagner's concept of the through-composed Music Drama with masterpieces such as Salome and Der Rosenkavalier.

Originally conceived as the overture to Strauss's final opera of that name, the sextet 'Capriccio' has achieved autonomy as a miniature concert piece in its own right.