Autumn 2020 Season

Schnittke, Siem
& Mozart

London Symphony Orchestra: Autumn Season
LSO St Luke's Jerwood Hall

© Matthew Weinreb

LSO St Luke's Jerwood Hall with a socially distanced orchestra

© Mark Allen

LSO St Luke's Jerwood Hall with a socially distanced orchestra

© Mark Allen

LSO St Luke's Jerwood Hall

© Matthew Weinreb

© Mark Allen

© Mark Allen

Thank you for joining us online.

Whilst audiences are currently unable to join us at LSO St Luke's, we are pleased that the Orchestra can continue to record performances and provide live music digitally to everyone during the coming weeks. A warm welcome to the numerous guest conductors and artists who continue to join the LSO in the Jerwood Hall, and welcome back to our family of conductors. We are particularly grateful to those who have stepped in to conduct at short notice as we continue to adapt to the latest government advice on travel restrictions.

It is a pleasure to invite you to watch and listen today online, and we look forward to welcoming you back to the concert hall when we are able to. I hope you enjoy the performance.

Kathryn McDowell CBE DL; Managing Director

Kathryn McDowell CBE DL; Managing Director

On YouTube: Sunday 22 November 7pm
Schnittke, Siem & Mozart

Alfred Schnittke Concerto Grosso No 1 for Two Solo Violins
Sasha Siem
Ojos del Cielo
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Symphony No 41 K551, ‘Jupiter’

Ryan Wigglesworth
Roman Simovic violin
Carmine Lauri violin
London Symphony Orchestra

This concert was recorded at LSO St Luke's on Wednesday 11 November, in COVID-19 secure conditions and without an audience. Visit our website for information on how we are ensuring activity at our venue LSO St Luke’s is COVID-19 secure.

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The importance of music and the arts has never been more apparent than in recent months, as we’ve been inspired, comforted and entertained throughout this unprecedented period.

As we emerge from the most challenging period of a generation, please consider supporting the LSO's Always Playing Appeal to sustain the Orchestra, allow us to perform together again on stage and to continue sharing our music with the broadest range of people possible.

Every donation will help to support the LSO’s future.

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The LSO’s return to work is supported by Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne and DnaNudge.

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This performance is generously supported by our Technical Partner, Yamaha Professional Audio.

Alfred Schnittke

Concerto Grosso No 1 for Two Solo Violins


1. Preludio: Andante
2. Toccata: Allegro
3. Recitativo: Lento
4. Cadenza
5. Rondo: Agitato
6. Postludio: Andante

Roman Simovic violin
Carmine Lauri violin

Between 1977 and 1993 Alfred Schnittke wrote six pieces based on the Baroque Concerto Grosso form, centring upon exchanges between an orchestra and a smaller group of ‘concertante’ soloists. The first two of the six movements alternate slow and fast, like its distant models. There the resemblance probably ends as Schnittke’s unique soundworld takes over.

'One of my life's goals,' Schnittke said of this work, 'is to eliminate the gap between E (Ernstmusik, serious music) and U (Unterhaltung, entertaining music), even if I break my neck.' The result is a series of eclectic styles and quotations, not least from Schnittke’s own film music: the concerto progresses in a dreamlike, even nightmarish state, its focus swinging dizzyingly from image to image.

The first movement opens with the mysterious off-key chimes of the prepared piano, sounding a theme drawn from a Soviet school-children’s song which returns in the Rondo. The two violinists then unfurl an impassioned idea over a hushed drone on the violas. The virtuosic and bustling Toccata occasionally opens its windows upon flashes of tonality. The central Recitativo is dark and inward, culminating in a build-up with the soloists veering through quarter-tones and glissandi while the orchestra’s sound gradually expands as if to overwhelm them. The Cadenza for the soloists explores a plethora of violin techniques. The final Rondo, in which the harpsichord has a crucial role, quotes a tango melody that was a favourite of the composer’s grandmother; it rubs shoulders in passing with Shostakovich’s D–S–C–H theme which looms out like a signpost from this freewheeling musical mix.

The work is scored for two solo violins, strings, harpsichord and 'prepared' piano and was written for the violinists Gidon Kremer and Tatyana Grindenko, who gave its premiere with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra. On his first visit to the West, Schnittke played the keyboard part himself.

Note by Jessica Duchen

Alfred Schnittke

The composer Alfred Schnittke

Born in Engels, in the Volga-German Republic of the Russian SFSR, Alfred Schnittke was the son of a Jewish father and German mother. As his biographer Alexander Ivashkin pointed out, 'in Russia he was labelled a Jew … In Germany and in the West he was a 'Russian composer''. He termed his music 'polystylistic', drawing freely on disparate influences from various genres and across the centuries.

Schnittke’s father, a translator, was posted to Vienna shortly after World War II and here the young Alfred fell in love with music. He wrote: 'I felt every moment there to be a link of the historical chain: all was multi-dimensional; the past represented a world of ever-present ghosts, and I was not a barbarian without any connections, but the conscious bearer of the task in my life'.

He completed his musical education in Moscow, graduating in 1961 and teaching at the Conservatory from 1962 to 1972. His outlook, both philosophical and musical, attracted the disapproval of the Soviet authorities and his Symphony No 1 was effectively banned. Nevertheless, he composed prolifically, his output including, amid much else, three operas, nine symphonies and around 70 film scores. As his style changed over the years, he embraced different strands of music-making in which he wished (notably in the Concerto Grosso No 1) to unite 'serious' and 'light' music. His conversion to Christianity added to this rich mix an underlying thread of mysticism.

In 1994 Schnittke suffered a stroke that left him unable to speak. He went on composing nonetheless, continuing to seek new musical languages until his death in 1998.

Composer profile by Jessica Duchen

Sasha Siem

Ojos del Cielo


Ojos del Cielo was composed in 2008 while Sasha Siem was a member of the LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme. It was later recorded on the Orchestra’s Panufnik Legacies III recording. The title means 'Sky Eyes', a term used in ancient Hispanic folklore to describe the eyes of someone who is 'absent or no longer there': literally dead, or alive but lifeless. 'A tragic image of a once vibrant life-force emptied of its former power,' Siem writes.

'The simple – almost banal – starting point for this piece was the common claim that the symphony orchestra is no longer an appropriate vehicle for contemporary expression … A background melody is repressed and rendered ‘numb’ by its mechanised dissection in the foreground as well as the abrupt choking of its persistent attempts to 'break free'.' The piece rested, Siem asserts, on the tension between the potential power of the orchestra, essentially 'romantic' in nature, and 'a throttling of its natural resonance'.

Looking back today, Siem sees the piece as symbolic of her attempts at that time to realise the full potential of her musical voice. It was, she says, 'a comment on my tendency to block my own 'Romanticism''.

Note by Jessica Duchen

Sasha Siem
b 1984

Composer Sasha Siem

Born in London in 1984 to a Norwegian father and South African mother, Sasha Siem first began composing aged 11, when she read Maya Angelou’s poem 'The Caged Bird' and was inspired to set it to music. She has a proven ability to cross with equal conviction between widely differing genres.

While she is probably best known as a spiritually focused singer-songwriter, she has written plentifully for orchestra and in 2008 was featured in the LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme. She studied music and poetry at Cambridge and Harvard Universities and later became one of the youngest winners of a British Composer Award in 2010, as well as being awarded the Arthur Bliss Prize and the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize. Her performances have extended from the Royal Opera House to the Latitude Festival and by:Larm, among others. In recent years she has won increasing acclaim for her songs, which are often termed cathartic, introspective and redemptive.

Her recent albums are inspired by the spiritual power that connects human beings and the natural world. The latest, Holey Wholly Holy, was written while she was living in Brooklyn with her husband and their new baby: it is, she says, 'about the collective experience – the things that make us human, the aspects of our cosmos that unite us'.

Composer profile by Jessica Duchen

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Symphony No 41 in C major K551, ‘Jupiter’


1. Allegro vivace
2. Andante cantabile
3. Menuetto: Allegretto
4. Molto allegro

From the beginning, Mozart’s works seem to have flowed from his pen with startling ease. In the summer of 1788, not long after the Viennese premiere of his opera Don Giovanni (less successful than its rapturously received world premiere in Prague) he produced all three of what turned out to be his final symphonies, beginning No 39 in early June and finishing No 41 on 10 August.

At the time he was facing serious family traumas: his baby daughter died, Constanze fell ill, the family had to move to a cheaper apartment, and Mozart was obliged to appeal to a fellow Freemason, Michael Puchberg, for urgent financial assistance.

This final symphony shows nothing of his distress. It turned out to be not only his largest effort in the form, but arguably his best. It has a magisterial quality that encompasses military hints in trumpets and drums, a lyrical, almost operatic melodiousness and a vast emotional range.

Its technical brilliance was not coincidental: Mozart had begun to study Bach’s fugues around 1782. In a letter to his sister Nannerl that year he attributed some of this new-found enthusiasm to his wife: 'When Constanze heard the fugues, she absolutely fell in love with them. Now she will listen to nothing but fugues, and particularly (in this kind of composition) the works of Handel and Bach'. He may have intended the symphony for a series of ‘Concerts in the Casino’ that he was planning in a new venue in Vienna’s Spiegelgasse – but it is not certain that the concerts took place, or that Mozart ever heard it performed.

The first movement’s grand-scale sonata-form Allegro extends from a dramatic beginning with shades of Don Giovanni to an insouciant theme based on a comic aria Mozart had recently written, ‘Il bacio del mano’ (A kiss of the hand). The development section weaves these many and varied ideas into a magnificent contrapuntal tapestry.

The slow movement brings exquisitely chromatic effects to its tender F major main theme as it unfolds; a contrasting theme in C minor brings a dark emotional undertow to prominence. There follows a Minuet with a trio in which Mozart’s sleight-of-hand seems to reverse the natural order of question and answer. A strong four-note motif stands out too, foreshadowing the finale’s main theme. And there Mozart lets rip with joyous exuberance, blending his ideas effortlessly in a rondo which he tops off with a double fugue based on five of the themes.

By 1828 the C major symphony’s significance was being recognised in earnest. The Danish diplomat Georg Niklaus von Nissen, who became Constanze’s second husband in 1809, wrote in his biography of his eminent predecessor: 'In no work of this kind does the divine spark of genius shine more brightly and beautifully'. As for the piece’s nickname, Mozart’s younger son, Franz Xaver, attributed it to the impresario Johann Peter Salomon’s attempts to advertise the 1819 British premiere. An English music publisher, Johann Baptist Cramer, has also been held responsible, stating that the symphony’s opening gestures reminded him of Jupiter and his thunderbolts.

Note by Jessica Duchen

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of the most extraordinary child prodigy musicians known to history. He was born in Salzburg, son of the violinist and teacher Leopold Mozart. Wolfgang’s sister, Anna Maria, or 'Nannerl', was reputedly as talented as he was. The proud Leopold toured both of them around the royal courts of Europe to display their skills, beginning what perhaps inevitably developed into a toxic father-son relationship.

Mozart’s early adulthood was further stamped by trauma when he travelled to Paris with his mother in 1778, attempting to establish a career there: the sojourn ended in tragedy when his mother died. His move to Vienna in 1781 was an act of rebellion against his father’s insistence that he should stay home and provide income for the family. Instead, Mozart married Constanze Weber and soon gained a foothold in the imperial capital, at first with some support from the Emperor. A series of subscription concerts, for which he wrote numerous symphonies and piano concertos, set him on a stellar path.

The Austro-Turkish War, however, heralded a period of reduced prosperity in which the aristocracy was less able to support artistic work. Mozart’s debts accumulated, his health began to fail and when a mysterious visitor (now known to be Count Franz von Walsegg) commissioned a Requiem from him, Mozart, according to Constanze, became convinced he was writing his own requiem. He died on 5 December 1791, aged 35.

Composer profile by Jessica Duchen

Artist Biographies

Ryan Wigglesworth

Conductor Ryan Wigglesworth

Ryan Wigglesworth is one of the foremost composer-conductors of his generation. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the Hallé Orchestra from 2015 to 2018 and Composer in Residence at the English National Opera. He held the Daniel R Lewis Composer Fellowship with the Cleveland Orchestra for two seasons (2013/15 and 2014/15) and was Composer-in-Residence at the 2018 Grafenegg Festival. In close partnership with the Royal Academy of Music, where he is Sir Richard Rodney Bennett Professor, he recently founded the Knussen Chamber Orchestra which made its Aldeburgh Festival and BBC Proms debuts in summer 2019.

Recent opera engagements have included a new production at the 2019 Glyndebourne Festival, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the 2019 Aldeburgh Festival. Recent concerts have included performances with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Royal Concertgebouw, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Finnish Radio Symphony, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Bamberg Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestras; DSO Berlin and RSO Vienna; Tokyo, Melbourne and Seattle Symphony Orchestras; City of Birmingham Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras; and the BBC Proms with both the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Britten Sinfonia. Also active as a pianist, recent performances include Schubert’s Winterreise with Mark Padmore, Mozart’s Two-Piano Concerto with Paul Lewis, and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1, directed from the keyboard.

One of the leading composers of his day, his first opera, The Winter’s Tale, was premiered at the ENO in February 2017. Other recent works include commissions from the Royal Concertgebouw and Cleveland Orchestras, BBC Symphony (BBC Proms), song cycles for Sophie Bevan (Wigmore Hall/Grafenegg) and Mark Padmore (Aldeburgh Festival/Wigmore Hall). Current projects include a piano concerto which was premiered at the 2019 Proms by Marc-André Hamelin, and a large-scale work for chorus and orchestra, co-commissioned by the Bergen Philharmonic and Hallé.

Roman Simovic

Violinist Roman Simovic

Roman Simovic’s virtuosity and musicality have taken him throughout all continents, performing on many of the world’s leading stages including the Carnegie Hall, Mariinsky Hall St Petersburg and Grand Opera House Tel-Aviv. As soloist, he has appeared with world-leading orchestras and conductors.

Roman has been awarded prizes at numerous international competitions, among which are Premio Rodolfo Lipizer, Sion-Valais, Yampolsky Violin Competition and the Henryk Wieniawksi Violin Competition, placing him among the foremost violinists of his generation. A sought-after artist, he has been invited and continues to perform at various distinguished festivals.

Roman has released a comprehensive list of recordings, most notably two CDs directing the LSO String Ensemble for LSO Live, and Tchaikovsky and Glazunov concertos with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra, as well as a CD of complete Paganini caprices for violin solo.

Roman plays a 1709 Antonio Stradivari violin, generously given to him on loan by Jonathan Moulds.

Carmine Lauri

Violinist Carmine Lauri

Maltese violinist Carmine Lauri started playing the violin at the age of four and at 17 was awarded the ABRSM scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Maurice Hasson. Carmine has performed worldwide as a soloist and leads various orchestras, including the LSO. He is also the Concertmaster of the Oxford Philharmonic and the Guest Leader of the Malta Philharmonic. He features in numerous movie scores, including Star Wars and Harry Potter and is the featured violin soloist in various films.

Carmine has performed concertos with orchestras including the LSO, London Philharmonic, both the Czech Philharmonic and Czech State Philharmonic Brno, Oxford Philharmonic and Armenian State Symphony Orchestra conducted by numerous renowned conductors. He was bestowed an ARAM and FRAM (Royal Academy of Music). He is a member of the National Order of Merit and is the recipient of the Gold Medal for Arts 2015. He performs on a violin made by Nicholas Lupot, ca 1768.

London Symphony Orchestra

On Stage

Players of the London Symphony Orchestra

© Ranald Mackechnie

© Ranald Mackechnie

Roman Simovic

First Violins
Carmine Lauri
Clare Duckworth
Ginette Decuyper
Laura Dixon
Gerald Gregory
Maxine Kwok
William Melvin
Laurent Quénelle
Harriet Rayfield
Elizabeth Pigram
Sylvain Vasseur

Second Violins
Julián Gíl Rodríguez
Thomas Norris
Sarah Quinn
Matthew Gardner
Alix Lagasse
Csilla Pogany
Belinda McFarlane
Iwona Muszynska
Andrew Pollock
Paul Robson

Gillianne Haddow
Malcolm Johnston
Anna Bastow
Julia O'Riordan
Sofia Silva Sousa
Robert Turner

Rebecca Gilliver
Jennifer Brown
Noel Bradshaw
Hilary Jones
Laure Le Dantec
Amanda Truelove

Double Basses
Colin Paris
Matthew Gibson
Thomas Goodman
José Moreira

Gareth Davies
Patricia Moynihan

Sharon Williams

Juliana Koch
Rosie Jenkins

Chris Richards
Chi-Yu Mo

Bass Clarinet
Katy Ayling

Daniel Jemison
Dominic Morgan

Contra Bassoon
Dominic Morgan

Timothy Jones
Angela Barnes
Alexander Edmundson
Finlay Bain

James Fountain
Kaitlin Wild
Simon Cox

Peter Moore
Philip White

Bass Trombone
Paul Milner

Ben Thomson

Nigel Thomas

Neil Percy
David Jackson
Sam Walton

Louise Martin

Elizabeth Burley

Elizabeth Burley

Meet the Members of the LSO on our website.

On Our Label: LSO Live

A showcase of new music by some of the most exciting young composers working in the UK today, all of whom are alumni of the LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme.

Panufnik Legacies III contains world premiere recordings of compositions by Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Ewan Campbell, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, Donghoon Shin, Alex Roth, Matthew Sergeant, Patrick Giguère, Sasha Siem, Bethan Morgan-Williams, Michael Taplin, Benjamin Ashby and Joanna Lee.

CD Cover: Panufnik Legacies III on LSO Live

LSO St Luke's exterior

© Neil Wilkinson

LSO St Luke's exterior

© Neil Wilkinson

LSO St Luke's exterior

© Neil Wilkinson

© Neil Wilkinson

© Neil Wilkinson

© Neil Wilkinson

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