Venue Details: Portsmouth Guildhall
- Stravinsky : Octet
- Strauss : Wind Serenade
- Stravinsky : Concerto for Piano and Winds
- Beethoven : Symphony No. 5
- Conductor : Kirill Karabits
- Soloist: Frank Braley (Piano)
Playfulness lies at the core of the Octet, every page of which reveals a wry, astringent wit. Stravinsky used a supremely unorthodox instrumental line-up – flute, clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets and tenor and bass trombones, chosen for their contrasting, yet complimentary tonal colours and textures. Other innovations involved the use of octatonic scales and harmonies that shift seamlessly from one tonal centre to another.
Although a youthful work, the charm, vivacity, and technical assurance of Strauss’ Wind Serenade makes it a worthy successor of Mozart's Gran Partita, upon which it is clearly modelled. Remarkably well composed for an 18 year old, scored for double winds plus four horns and contrabassoon, it comprises a single movement in expansive sonata form.
This concerto exemplifies Stravinsky’s neoclassical style, eschewing strings as too Romantic and expressive, instead adopting aspects of the Baroque idiom as well as the Classical form. It begins with a slow processional of enormous gravity; the ensuing toccata explodes with a high trumpet blast. These polarities are retained throughout with a sonorous largo and breathless finale.
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, more than any other work in the musical repertory, is the archetypal example of the technique and content of the form, and has the most famous beginning in all of classical music. It is a work of enormous accumulated energy which propels you harmonically and rhythmically through from the opening gesture to the final glorious cadences.