Monday 30 January
Concert Hall
with Michael Field
Beethoven, L.
Piano concerto no 1 in C, op 15 (1795).
Vladimir Ashkenazy, pf; Vienna PO/Zubin Mehta.
All the great piano makers of the early 19th century grew accustomed to receiving brusque letters from Beethoven, demanding more strings, more sustain, more keys – more everything. Beethoven’s piano concerti document both the growing power of the piano, and their composer’s journey from dazzling young piano player, in thrall to the musical values of Haydn and Mozart to the greatest composer of his day, or, arguably, of all time. Here’s an opportunity to hear the concerto that began that journey.

Tuesday 31 January
Concert Hall with Ross Hayes
Vaughan Williams, R.
The lark ascending (1914/20).
Dimity Hall, vn; Sinfonia Australis/Antony Walker. 
The Lark Ascending is surely Ralph Vaughan Williams’ most enduringly popular work, but, curiously, it got him arrested. He wrote it in 1914 and sketched its rudiments while watching British troopships heading for France. A small boy thought he was a spy, and called the local constable, who briefly detained the composer to ‘assist him in his enquiries’. Based on the poem by George Meredith, it had to wait until its composer returned from service on the Western Front before it was completed.

Although very clearly a work of sunrise and awakening, it is tinged with elegy for the immense human cost of those intervening years.

Thursday 2 February
Diversions in Fine Music
 with David Brett
Sarasate, P. de
Navarra, op 33 (1889).
Adele Anthony, vn; Gil Shaham, vn; Akira Eguchi, pf; Castille and León SO/Alejandro Posada. 
Pablo de Sarasate was the most celebrated violinist of his day, and many composers dedicated music to him. He was, however, a gifted arranger and composer in his own right, and this duo, for two virtuoso violins, piano and orchestra, and named after the region of Spain where he was born, is a chance to hear those gifts in the hands of two contemporary masters of his instrument.