The programme of the NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra will feature four captivating works of artists active in the 20th century. Each of them is unusual in terms of sound, inventiveness and expression.
Andrzej Panufnik's Love Song was created in 1976 to the words of the sixteenth-century English poet, Sir Philip Sidney. The composer returned to this gentle, lyrical work in the last days of his life, when for a charity concert supporting children’s music education, he prepared a version of this work for mezzo-soprano, strings and piano or harp. He partly wrote it down and partly dictated to his wife Camilla, who was his muse and supporter. Deeply personal, full of tenderness and serenity, the Love Song has become a farewell to his beloved imbued with melancholy and awareness of the imminent end.
The song cycle Les illuminations by Benjamin Britten, written in 1939, was composed to the words of Artur Rimbaud. Although Britten pointed out that it can be performed in a version for soprano or tenor with strings, the arrangement for female voice is more popular. Commentators agree that it is more sensual and reflects the mood of this song. The score is preceded by a quote from Rimbaud: "I alone know the key to this wild parade", and these words, emphasizing the artist’s special insightfulness, also appear three times in different places of the work. After the American performance in 1940, one critic wrote that this cycle is “nothing more than a series of cheap and easy effects ... pretentious, banal and most disappointing”. These words are a standard example of how irrelevant and unfair a critic's assessment can be. Britten's sensual, dreamy and extremely atmospheric composition quickly gained great popularity and is now one of his most valued and most frequently performed works.
The Introduction and Allegro is one of Edward Elgar's most famous works. It is intended for string quartet and string orchestra. The structure is modelled on the Baroque concerto grosso – the quartet’s part is more elaborate and virtuoso. Usually, the quartet competes with the rest of the orchestra, and in few episodes its sound blends with the sounds of other instruments. It’s a thrilling composition, dramatic and full of great emotions. The concert will culminate in the Serenade for tenor, horn and strings by Britten, commissioned by the legendary French horn player Dennis Brain. Composed in 1943, during Britten’s stay in a hospital where he was treated for measles after returning from America. The Serenade consists of eight movements – in six Britten used poems by English poets on the theme of the night, hence the mood of the work is mysterious and somewhat dark. The Prologue and Epilogue are played by solo horn. The eighth movement must be performed behind the stage, so in the seventh the soloist is accompanied only by strings, which gives him time to go backstage.