Brian Elias | Photo: Ben Ealovega

Brian Elias: Wigmore Hall Retrospective

On Saturday 24 April, Brian Elias’s music will be the focus of two concerts presented by the Wigmore Hall. The programmes which will be streamed live at 11.30am (GMT) and 3pm (GMT) have been curated by Elias himself and represent a retrospective of his smaller chamber oeuvre from early works written in the 70s’ and 80s’ to those written in the last two decades. Paired with Elias’s music are works by the three composers who have been a significant influence: his teacher and mentor Elisabeth Lutyens; Maurice Ravel, who Elias credits with teaching him ‘everything he knows’ about instrumentation; and Claude Debussy, a constant beacon of inspiration.

Poetry is another important source of stimulation so it is apt that each of the two concerts begin with unaccompanied settings of poems: Peroration (1973) set to Robert Browning’s ‘Dominus Hyacinthus de Archangelis’ (The Ring and the Book); and Meet Me in the Green Glen (2009) a setting of John Clare’s cycle of the same name which is featured on NMC’s 2017 recording of Elias’s music. The second concert additionally features Elias’ Three Rossetti Songs (2003) a setting of three poems written by Christina Rossetti over a period of 40 years.

Elias has frequently explored some of the ideas tackled in his larger orchestral works through his chamber and solo works and, in these concerts he has included ensemble pieces including Geranos (1984) and his String Quartet (2012) alongside more intimate works including Pythikos Nomos (1987) for saxophone and piano; L’innominata (2018) for cello and piano; and, the most recent work on the programme Arioso (2019) for solo baritone saxophone, which was commissioned by London’s Royal Academy of Music to celebrate its 200th anniversary and received its première at the Academy in autumn 2020.

Thomas Kemp who will conduct the performance of Geranos that concludes the programme, is also Artistic Director of [email protected] where Elias’ music was profiled last October alongside that of Mark-Anthony Turnage. In addition to a further focus on Elias’s music this September, [email protected] will next spring present the world première of his Sequel, one of six commissions initiated by the festival to pair with Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos which celebrate their 300th anniversary in 2021. Sequel has been composed with the same instrumentation as the first Brandenburg Concerto and will be followed by works Deborah Prichard, Daniel Kidane, Joseph Phibbs, Michael Price and Stevie Wishart.

Recipient of two British Composer Awards, Brian Elias celebrated his 70th birthday in 2018 in a year which also saw the world premières of his Cello Concerto at the BBC Proms, Oboe Quintet at the Wigmore Hall and the Royal Ballet’s revival of The Judas Tree the last ballet choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan and commissioned from Elias at MacMillan’s request. This spring on 30 May, the Rautio Piano Trio will give the world première of Elias’s Piano Trio at London’s Kings Place before taking it to the Hay Music festival in thesummer.


PROGRAMME ONE: 11.30AM

Elias                                       Peroration

Mimi Doulton, soprano

 

Elias                                       L’innominata

Christopher Graves, cello; Daniel Lebhart, piano

 

Ravel                                      Introduction & Allegro

Thomas Hancox, flute; Jon Carnac, clarinet; Olivia Jageurs, harp; Castalian String Quartet: Sini Simonen, violin; Daniel Roberts, violin; Charlotte Bonneton, viola; Christopher Graves, cello

 

Elias                                       Arioso

Robert Mark Burton, baritone saxophone

 

Lutyens                                  Requiescat

Mimi Doulton, soprano; Sini Simonen, violin; Daniel Roberts, violin; Charlotte Bonneton, viola; Christopher Graves, cello

 

Elias                                       String Quartet

Sini Simonen, violin; Daniel Roberts, violin; Charlotte Bonneton, viola; Christopher Graves, cello

 

PROGRAMME TWO: 3PM

Elias                                       Meet Me in the Green Glen (complete)                                                

Kathryn Rudge, mezzo-soprano

Elias                                       Pythikos Nomos

Robert Mark Burton, baritone saxophone; Daniel Lebhart, piano

Debussy                                  Les sons et les parfums

                                                   Les collines d’Anacapri

                                                   Des pas sur la neige (all from Préludes, Book I)

Daniel Lebhart, piano

Elias                                       Rossetti Songs (complete)

Kathryn Rudge, mezzo-soprano; Olivia Jageurs, harp

Elias                                       Geranos

Thomas Kemp, conductor; Thomas Hancox, flute; Jon Carnac, clarinet; Adrian Spillett, percussion; Castalian String Quartet: Sini Simonen, violin; Daniel Roberts, violin; Charlotte Bonneton, viola; Christopher Graves, cello