23 January 2018

Stravinsky Dances concertantes
Haydn Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major
Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K550
Tuesday 23 January 2018, 7:30pm
St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ

Michael Seal, conductor
Richard Birchall, cello

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Danses Concertantes looks and sounds like a ballet score; officially, however, it is a concert piece. It hails from Stravinsky’s neoclassical period when he worked to establish an artistic link with the formal and contrapuntal structures of eighteenth-century music. Written in Hollywood in the winter of 1941-1942, the work received its premiere in Los Angeles in the February.

Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major, composed around 1761-1765, was presumed lost for two hundred years until in 1961, a copy of the score was discovered at the Prague National Museum. The Concerto has since become a staple of the cello repertoire.

We conclude this performance with Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, which needs no introduction. The summer of 1788, when this, along with his other last two symphonies, were composed, was not a good time for Mozart. He was beset with by financial troubles, declining popularity, illness of his wife, and the failure of his opera, Don Giovanni. Notwithstanding this, he completed all three symphonies in lightning speed over a ten-week period. For some time, it was believed that Mozart never heard a performance of No. 40, although today there is some evidence that there was at least one performance during his lifetime conducted by Salieri.