‘Though Elias writes little…what he produces is immaculately achieved. Every inflection tells, the balance of sound is exact, and the sound seductive in the best traditions of glamorous 20th century orchestral writing.’ THE SUNDAY TIMES
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 and 3pm 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 Music@Malling where Elias’s music was profiled last October alongside that of Mark-Anthony Turnage. In addition to a further focus on Elias’s music this September, Music@Malling 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 the summer.
BRIAN ELIAS: WIGMORE HALL RETROSPECTIVE
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), Castalian String Quartet
Elias – String Quartet – Castalian String Quartet
PROGRAMME TWO: 3PM
Elias – Meet Me in the Green Glen (complete) – Kathryn Rudge (mezzo-soprano)
Elias – Pythikos Nomos – Robert Mark Burton (baritone saxophone), Gabriele Strata (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