Music is always set against a political and social backdrop. It is so in our programme.
Haydn returned to Vienna from a triumphal stay in London (1795) to find the city under siege from Napoleon’s army; in 1849 the German monarchies were facing revolutions and Schumann, living in Dresden, narrowly escaped conscription by Republican soldiers who came looking for him; Elgar (1918) was horrified by the mechanical slaughter of trench warfare. In 1944 Richard Strauss was heartbroken by the destruction of German cities and the rape of European culture by the Third Reich and was afraid for his family (his daughter-in-law was Jewish).
Under threat and fearful, what we find in the music of these great, genius composers was not rage but deep lament followed by redemption, a yearning for renewal. Challenged by the outside world all of them seemed to reach down into their deepest creative minds and found within themselves music of such great artistry that told us that even in the worst and darkest of days, in the end, beauty and truth will triumph. The pieces we are playing by these composers are all late works. Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen (‘transformation’) is a heart-breaking 25 minute outpouring of radiant string music perhaps the greatest piece he ever wrote. We will play the original version for string septet. There is also an evening of English string music including the rarely played Piano Quintet by Vaughan Williams… and Elgar’s late masterpiece, his Piano Quintet (Op 84) joined at the hip by his Op 85, the Cello Concerto, his last great statements. So all of this and more not to be missed!
Joining me are some of the best string players in Europe and the wonderful Russian pianist Katya Apekisheva. In our time Europe is once again at war and as Strauss said when he re-read his Goethe, anger is never the last word. I hope that beauty and truth will shine through during the tenth anniversary of York Chamber Music Festival. We will certainly do our best. I look forward to greeting you all in September.
Tim Lowe (Artistic Director)
Events by our friends and partners
Tuesday 2nd May - Friday 5th May 2023
Join the Ryedale Festival for a week of concerts by BBC New Generation Artists, presented by Al Ryan and broadcast on BBC Radio 3:
The fast-rising countertenor Hugh Cutting sings songs on the theme of liberation, with pianist Christopher Glynn;
Expect Albeniz to Bach and imaginative music making by one of the freshest talents in classical music, accordionist Ryan Corbett;
Virtuosity and poetry come together in an entrancing programme by Columbian cellist Santiago-Cañón Valencia and pianist Naoko Sonoda, featuring music by Ravel and Arvo Pärt;
Discover ‘exquisite phrasing', ‘full-blooded commitment’ and ‘bold, passionate colours’ in music by Mozart and Korngold performed by the Mithras Trio.
For details and ticketing go to www.ryedalefestival.com
Beyond the Spanish Golden Age
The NCEM celebrates a new relationship with Instituto Cervantes, Spanish National Centre for the Promotion of Music and Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports with two glorious concerts Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 May 2023.
La Galania and soprano Raquel Andueza, (13 May, 7pm) The award winning Spanish ensemble invite you to join them to bask in the rhythms, sounds and soft breezes of 17th century Spain.
Concerto 1700, Music of the Spanish Enlightenment (14 May, 7pm) Founded in 2015 by violinist Daniel Pinteño, the ensemble brings a sparkling programme of 18th century string.
Book Tickets www.ncem.co.uk/beyond-the-spanish-golden-age