Howard Skempton - Lento
Wagner - Wesendonck Leider
In 1857, Richard Wagner and his then-wife Minna were living in a cottage in the grounds of property belonging to wealthy silk merchant Otto Wesendonck and his wife Mathilde. Wagner and Mathilde embarked on an affair which, while personally destructive, produced the beautiful Wesendonck Lieder, 5 songs for female voice. The literary and soulful Mathilde provided the texts, while the music shows Wagner at his most vulnerable, oscillating between exuberant euphoria and delusional distress.
Elgar’s second symphony was also written in a maelstrom of emotion. There was his relationship with his muse at the time, Alice Stuart-Wortley, to whom he wrote that he had "shewn my soul" in this music and the death of several close friends as well as King Edward VII, to whom the piece was dedicated. The resulting symphony demonstrates Elgar’s absolute mastery of orchestral colour as it combines his private dreams and doubts in a vast and beautiful work.
To open the concert, it is with enormous gratitude to the PRS Foundation’s Resonate
programme that the Orchestra is able to perform Howard Skempton’s first major work for orchestra, Lento.
This serenely beautiful work is based on several chorales and is hypnotic – fans of Barber’s Adagio for Strings
are sure to fall for its enigmatic simplicity.
This concert is supported by