Friday 24 February
Diversions in Fine Music
with Michael Field

Rossini, G. Quartet no 4 in B flat (1804; arr. Berr).
Michael Thompson Wind Quartet.

Rossini was one of music’s many youthful prodigies. At the age of 12, encouraged by a cello-playing friend with a wealthy father, he formed a sort of garage band, for which he wrote copiously, demonstrating not only proper respect for Haydn, but the boy’s promise as a serious composer. In his old age, Rossini referred to these charming pieces as ‘the sins of my youth’, but public opinion has contradicted him. They are brimful of youthful charm and zest.

Monday 27 February
Concert Hall
with Stephen Matthews

Wagner, R. Overture to Tannhäuser (1845).
Chicago SO/Daniel Barenboim.

Wagner tinkered extensively with the overture to Tannhäuser, eventually settling on a version which led directly into the dramatic action. That has left us with an original suitable for concert use, and it has proved enduringly popular.

Tuesday 28 February
Diversions in Fine Music
with Andrew Dziedzic

Kreisler, F. Liebesfreud (c1910; arr. Rachmaninov); Liebeslied (c1910; arr. Rachmaninov).
Sergei Rachmaninov, reproducing piano.

Have you ever wondered what it was like to hear Beethoven at the piano? Or Brahms, perhaps with Clara Schumann at his side? These days, we’re so used to the availability of recorded music that it’s hard to imagine a world in which live performance was the only kind of performance there was. That all changed with the invention of the phonograph, of course. But almost concurrently came the invention of the reproducing piano, and in the early years of the 20th century, on the medium of punched paper, performances by many virtuosi of the day were captured, allowing us to peer eerily into the past and hear their technique and style. Sergei Rachmaninov was perhaps the most celebrated pianist of his day, and these arrangements he made of light-hearted pieces written by Fritz Kreisler for violin and piano allow us to hear why.