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Basically British XIV – July 10, 2015

Basically British XIV

Kindra Scharich, mezzo-soprano; Paul Yarbrough, viola; John Parr, piano

John Dowland Flow my Tears and If my Complaints
Benjamin Britten Lacrymae for Viola and Piano
Frank Bridge Pensiero and Allegro Appassionata for Viola and Piano; Three Songs for medium voice, viola and piano
Edward Elgar Skizze; In Smyrna; Sea Pictures
Johannes Brahms Two songs for voice, viola, and piano

This program continues the Basically British series, which John Parr presented at Old First Concerts from 2003 through 2011. The aim was to explore the flowering of British music which began at the end of the nineteenth century with the emergence of the first great British composer since Henry Purcell, Sir Edward Elgar, and continued into the twentieth century with Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett, and a host of “minor” masters, all writing with beauty, mastery of technique, and an identifiable “national” style. This program illustrates two major threads of this repertoire. The earlier-through the German Romantic Masters, Brahms and Wagner, to Elgar, who took their musical language and mastery of composition, while developing it into something quite unique which came to portray the England of his time. On the other hand, Benjamin Britten, taught at the early age of 13 (!) by the composer, conductor and viola player Frank Bridge, took the mastery of orchestral and compositional technique he learned from his teacher, but largely ignored the German Romantic Style and went back to the music of Henry Purcell as an inspiration, combining it with his own prodigious invention and incorporating the bi-tonal and pentatonic aspects which Balinese music inspired in him in his visit to the Island in the forties. Bridge was a fine viola player, being a member of the English String quartet from 1906-1915, and Britten was an amateur player (as well as a very fine pianist, of course). Parr is joined by Paul Yarborough, violist of the Alexander Quartet, and the fine mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich, in this program.

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