The winter-spring ‘season’ of orchestral concerts is slipping away quickly, but while we have the chance to enjoy his work with the Hallé there’s still a set of three ‘Opus One’ concerts conducted by Sir Mark Elder at the Bridgewater Hall (26 April at 2.15pm, 27 and 30 April at 7.30pm).
The music begins with Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro for Strings – Sir Mark and Elgar are an ideal combination for many Manchester listeners now – and continues with Weber’s Clarinet Concerto no. 2 (soloist Julian Bliss) and then Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.
The latter has been, since Barbirolli’s time with the superb horn playing of Ifor James in its slow movement, a Hallé calling card, and Sir Mark’s previous performances of it have been magnificent, imbued with a breath of life from east of the Urals.
His time with the orchestra this past week has provided some memorable music-making, not least in the Thursday concert which unveiled a new British symphony – Huw Watkins’ – in its premiere (you can see my review of that evening on http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music/kim-hall%C3%A9-elder-bridgewater-hall-manchester), and he was even busy on Sunday afternoon at the opening of the lovely new concert hall at Chetham’s School of Music, The Stoller Hall (see http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music/stoller-hall-opening-chethams-school-music-manchester).
The Royal Northern College of Music has a host of delights to offer in its Day of Song this year – on 30 April. The theme is ‘Folk Connections’, looking at the interaction of folk song and art music using it and inspired by it.
The day showcases folk connections in song through a series of colourful and vibrant recitals.
Artistic director Jonathan Fisher says: “Many of the great composers of the past and present have been influenced by folk song, connecting music with place, expressing a people’s identity and cultural heritage.
“We are delighted to feature a complete performance of Luciano Berio’s rarely heard Folk Songs for mezzo soprano and chamber ensemble, Joseph Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne, and folk song arrangements by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten.
“Thomas Schulze, RNCM tutor in Lieder, will give an insightful masterclass on settings by Mahler and Strauss of Des Knaben Wunderhorn, then in the evening we finish with an exciting concert featuring the RNCM Chamber Choir and RNCM ArkEnsemble in Gypsy Songs by Dvořák and Brahms.”
Arnim and Brentano’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn is an interesting component in 19th century musical consciousness (a bit like the ‘Ossian’ poems, supposedly by a Scottish bard, but really all made up). Ostensibly the texts of ‘old German songs’, they may bear little relation to real folk tradition. But then, did Macfarren’s Popular Music of the Olden Time, either?