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Introducing Court & Country, a concert by Scottish Ensemble featuring

 

The mythology and iconography of Ancient Greece has always provided a rich drawing-board for artistic inspiration. Its legacy really is quite incredible, passed down through paintings, poetry, literature and music across the centuries. As a result, many of us know the stories, but often without even realising it, being so intrinsically entangled in our everyday culture – the concept of having an ‘Achilles’ heel’, for example; ‘the face that launched a thousand ships’, Helen of Troy; or Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection and had a whole concept named after him, to name just three.

Composers were not immune to the lure of these ancient Greek stories about gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines, and the origins of the world and their culture. Whilst we had a really difficult time narrowing it down, we feel like we have come up with a little selection of some of our favourite pieces for string orchestra and mezzo-soprano which explore one of the characters. Whether it’s the God of music, Apollo, being visited by three artistic muses in Stravinsky’s minimalist ‘white ballet’, or the tragic tales of Arianna, stuck on her island and abandoned by Theseus, and Dido, tricked by witches and abandoned by Aeneas, the pieces touch on notions of fate, destiny, tragedy, time and prophecy, and it’s fascinating to see how each composer has dealt with and represented this.

Below is an introduction to each of the pieces we’ll be performing – as well as our fantastic soloist, the Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill who we’ve been wanting to collaborate with for a while, now – and our guest leader and friend Matthew Truscott, a superb violinist and expert in Baroque and contemporary music. Calling at The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh (Tue 20 Feb 2018), Wellington Church, Glasgow (Wed 21 Feb 2018) and Kings Place, London (Fri 23 Feb 2018), we very much hope you can join us to experience what looks to be a dramatic live performance.

J.S. Bach – Brandenburg Concerto

 

For those unfamiliar with the story behind them – in 1721, Bach compiled six pieces into one score and hopefully sent it away to a man called Christian Ludwig Margrave of Brandenburg, who had seen Bach playing two years earlier and asked him to send some compositions. The composer duly dedicated these six and now extremely famous works to him in the hope of showing Margrave exactly what he could do – a musical CV, if you wish – only to receive no reply, which seems rude considering this is only the first line of the introductory letter:

“As I had the good fortune a few years ago to be heard by Your Royal Highness, at Your Highness’s commands, and as I noticed then that Your Highness took some pleasure in the little talents which Heaven has given me for Music, and as in taking Leave of Your Royal Highness, Your Highness designed to honour me with the command to send Your Highness some pieces of my Composition: I have in accordance with Your Highness’s most gracious orders taken the liberty of rendering my most humble duty to Your Royal Highness with the present Concertos, which I have adapted to several instruments; begging Your Highness most humbly not to judge their imperfection with the rigor of that discriminating and sensitive taste, which everyone knows Him to have for musical works, but rather to take into benign Consideration the profound respect and the most humble obedience which I thus attempt to show Him.” 

And, breathe.

J.S. Bach – Violin Concerto in E major

d asked him to send some compositions. The composer duly dedicated these six and now extremely famous works to him in the hope of showing Margrave exactly what he could do – a musical C

Béla Bartók – Divertimento for Strings

d asked him to send some compositions. The composer duly dedicated these six and now extremely famous works to him in the hope of showing Margrave exactly what he could do – a musical C

Sally Beamish – Seavaigers

d asked him to send some compositions. The composer duly dedicated these six and now extremely famous works to him in the hope of showing Margrave exactly what he could do – a musical C

Chris Stout – Dealer In Hope

d asked him to send some compositions. The composer duly dedicated these six and now extremely famous works to him in the hope of showing Margrave exactly what he could do – a musical C


View the full programme

If you’d like to read the longer programme notes about the concert in advance, please click on the picture below.


Find out more

Interview with Chris Stout & Catriona McKay
Work & Play: 5-minute interview with Chris Stout



Scottish Ensemble’s Court and Country, with Chris Stout and Catriona McKay, calls at Inverness (13 March), Greenock (14 March), Dumfries (15 March) and Dundee (16 March).