Knaresborough Pro Musica makes a long-awaited return to St John’s Church in Knaresborough on Saturday 3rd September, with a wonderful programme of music for string orchestra and octet – perfect for a late summer’s evening.
The concert opens with the delightful Little Suite by Nielsen, Denmark’s leading composer of the early 20th Century. Originally written for string quintet, but augmented to 9 parts on the advice of Nielsen’s teacher and mentor, Niels Gade, the work spans diverse moods from a dark and serious Prelude, through a good humoured and lilting Intermezzo, to an Allegro con brio of exciting exuberance. This is followed by Barber’s powerful Adagio, a work full of pathos, which famously featured in the film Platoon and was played at the funeral of Albert Einstein. The first half of the concert concludes with Elgar’s Serenade for Strings, one of his most popular compositions and one of the first with which the perfectionist professed himself to be ‘happy’.
The second half of the concert features one of the pinnacles of string chamber music – Mendelssohn’s glorious Octet. Composed when Mendelssohn was just 16, this work shows a maturity far beyond the composer’s years. Classic FM notes that “Mendelssohn integrates the ensemble’s two string quartets with the mastery of a seasoned professional”. Musical director and leader Richard Fletcher, who recently performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Harrogate Symphony Orchestra to a capacity audience, says “it is always a wonderful treat to play and one I never get bored of. It’s amazing that no one since has come close to matching this incredible work – the way Mendelssohn weaves the melodies between different combinations of the instruments is enchanting and creates an ever evolving sound world.”
The musicians, all local professional players, are excited to return to St John’s after 3 long years away due to COVID. In keeping with the chamber second half, the first half will be performed by only 11 players – something that Richard feels will bring “a real intimacy to music that we often hear performed by large symphony orchestra string sections”.
Tickets, priced at £15 for adults/£10 for students are available on the door, or in advance from Eventbrite.