Thank you for joining us for LSO Summer Shorts.
We are delighted to see live music return to LSO St Luke's as LSO musicians and friends come together throughout July and August for a series of chamber-scale concerts. These concerts form part of a pilot project for indoor performances, and we look forward to expanding this in the coming weeks.
We are very grateful for the bequest of the late Ms Denise Antenen and the generous support of our Technical Partner, Yamaha Professional Audio, which have made this series possible.
Whether in the hall or online, it is a pleasure to invite you to join us, and I hope you enjoy these performances.
Pla Trio Sonata in F major
Zelenka Trio Sonata No 1 in F major
Olivier Stankiewicz oboe
Juliana Koch oboe
Daniel Jemison bassoon
Peter Whelan harpsichord
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The support of our audience has truly never been more important for the Orchestra and its world-class artistic programme. By supporting us now and in the months to come, you will help us to continue to adapt our music-making and activities to meet the challenges of these times, including sharing the gift of music with our local communities through our LSO Discovery programme.
Today's Programme in 60 Seconds
with Juliana Koch
'This is a programme of unusual Baroque music, centred around repertoire most likely unknown to the non-double reed playing listener out there! This programme has been on my mind for a while and the Summer Shorts provide an ideal opportunity for both of the LSO's Principal Oboes to perform together.
We open with a Trio Sonata for two oboes and basso continuo (bassoon and harpsichord), written by Joan Baptista Pla. The Pla brothers toured Europe during the 18th century as a virtuosic oboe duo, performing the compositions they created for themselves.
This is followed by two short English dance movements, written by a composer I discovered only recently – Ignatius Sancho. Born around 1729 on a slave ship, orphaned shortly after the Atlantic Crossing and sent to England at the age of two, his life story is remarkable and you should definitely read up on him!
Finally the main work of this concert is one of Jan Dismas Zelenka's famous Trio Sonatas. His music is legendary for his daring and extrovert style and also the incredible demands he places on us, the performers.'
Talk to Us
Take part in the live Q&A at the end of the concert by posting your questions in the live chat on YouTube or tweeting us at @londonsymphony with the hashtag #lsosummershorts.
Trio Sonata in F major
3 Allegro ma non tanto
A trio for four players? To an 18th-century music lover it would have made perfect sense. 'A Trio,' wrote James Brassineau in his Musical Dictionary (1740) is 'a piece of music made to be performed by three voices, or more properly a composition consisting of three parts only'. The 18th-century domestic harpsichord might be an expensive and handsome instrument, or it might be a tiny spinet, no bigger than a coffee table. Either way, it could usually do with some reinforcement. A cello or bassoon amplified the bass nicely, and the combined 'continuo' team of harpsichord plus another instrument counted as just one part of the music.
As for a Trio Sonata – well, for Brassineau, a sonata was 'a grand free harmonious composition, diversified with great variety of motions and expressions, extraordinary and bold strokes and figures, and all this according to the fancy of the composer'. That’s precisely what we find in this sonata by Joan Baptista Pla, published by John Hardy of London in 1754. You’d expect a virtuoso oboist like Pla to write lively and stylish music for the oboe, but there’s a real fantasy about this three movement sonata. The two oboes almost seem to play hide-and-seek with each other in the first movement, and it’s probably not too fantastic to hear the deep shadows and brilliant sunlight of Pla’s native Catalonia in the central Andante and spirited finale – where ornaments swirl and dance across the music like some fabulous rococo sculpture.
Programme note by Richard Bratby
Joan Baptista Pla i Agustí
Born in Barcelona into a Catalan family of musicians, the composer and oboist worked across Europe from Stuttgart to Brussels, Paris to London along with his brother Josep Pla i Agustí (1728–62), also a composer and chamber musician.
In 1762 after his brother's death, Joan travelled to Lisbon to work as an oboist and bassoonist. He is thought to have died in Paris. Together, the Pla brothers left hundreds of compositions including about 30 trio sonatas as well as concertos for flute and strings.
Pla: Trios per a oboes, a collection of trios by the Pla brothers.
Another brother, Manuel, (c 1725–66) was a violinist and harpsichordist at the court of Madrid.
Beside Pla’s showmanship, the dance music of Ignatius Sancho is more restrained – at least in this selection from his second collection of Minuets, 'compos’d by an African' and sold from around 1770 at Richard Duke’s music shop in Holborn. But then, these graceful dances were dedicated to Sancho’s patron and employer, Lord Montagu of Boughton, and they’re the work of a polymath who was born in slavery but who by this time was a widely admired writer and composer; a friend of Gainsborough and Sterne, and a man of education and taste.
Sancho’s Minuets are elegantly laid out, and conceived for 'Violin, Mandolin, German-flute and Harpsichord' – in other words, any instruments that might be at hand in a home where a spot of after-dinner dancing was desired.
Programme note by Richard Bratby
Sancho was born in unimaginable conditions aboard a slave ship, travelling from Guinea to the Spanish West Indies. His mother died when he was still a baby, and shortly after, his father took his own life. Sancho was then transported to London and forced to work as a slave at a house in Greenwich.
‘The first part of my life was rather unlucky, as I was placed in a family who judged ignorance the best and only security for obedience.’
He taught himself to read and escaped to the household of the Duke of Montagu, where he worked as a butler. After marrying in 1758, Sancho opened a shop in Westminster, from which he pursued his own studies, wrote plays, poems and letters to newspaper editors as an abolitionist, and composed and published four collections of his own music.
Sancho struck up a friendship with novelist Laurence Sterne, best known for his humorous work Tristram Shandy.
He was a close friend of Ottobah Cugoano (aka John Stuart) – an abolitionist, anti-imperialist, and natural rights philosopher from Ghana who lived in England.
Did you know…?
As a financially independent male householder, Sancho became the first person of African descent to vote in a British general election in 1774.
Trio Sonata No 1 in F major
1 Adagio ma non troppo
4 Allegro assai
The first of Zelenka’s six trio sonatas is in four movements. It’s what contemporaries called a Sonata da Chiesa – 'that is' (according to Brassineau), 'one proper for Church music, which commonly begins with a grave solemn motion, suitable to the dignity of the place and the service, after which they strike into a brisker, gayer, richer manner'. But that barely does justice to Zelenka’s imagination; this is music of such expressive power and technical difficulty that modern writers have suggested that Zelenka may even have had a vendetta against a particular oboist. Few modern players would bear him any grudge. This magnificent sonata throws up constant unexpected twists of harmony and emotion, with irrepressible wit.
Programme note by Richard Bratby
Jan Dismas Zelenka
Born in Bohemia in 1679, Zelenka likely first took music lessons from his organist father. As a violone (bass viol) player, he was appointed to the court orchestra of Dresden in 1710, where except for a few extended trips to other European cities, he remained for the rest of his life. One such trip was to Prague, where he conducted the premiere of his Sub olea pacis et palma virtutis, composed for the coronation of Emperor Charles VI in 1723.
Often referred to as the Czech or Catholic equivalent to JS Bach, Zelenka composed a great deal of sacred music, becoming the first official composer for the Dresden Catholic Church in 1734. He died in Dresden in 1745, and only years later has his work been rediscovered and Zelenka recognised as an ingenious and virtuoso composer equal to the likes of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi.
Zelenka was close friends with some eminent composers of the day: Georg Philipp Telemann, Johann Georg Pisendel and Sylvius Leopold Weiss.
Did you know…?
The rediscovery of Zelenka's work is largely thanks to Czech composer Smetana, who rewrote some scores from the Dresden archives and introduced his orchestral suites to Prague's New Town Theatre festivals in the 1860s.
Players on stage:
Before joining the London Symphony Orchestra in 2018, Juliana played as principal oboe at the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen and at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and became a laureate of the ARD international Music Competition 2017. Since then she has been an in-demand soloist, debuting at the Berlin Philharmonie in 2019 with the Strauss Oboe Concerto, performing with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Other solo engagements have included appearances with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Hungarian National Philharmonic among others.
Recitals and chamber music performances have taken her to Musica Viva’s Huntington Estate Music Festival in Australia, Lucerne Festival, Bachfest Leipzig, the Bamberg Konzerthalle and Deutschlandfunk Köln. A sought-after guest principal, Juliana has appeared with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Juliana studied with François Leleux in Munich and Fabian Menzel in Frankfurt. She plays a Marigaux M2 oboe.
Olivier has given recitals at Wigmore Hall, Snape Maltings and the Louvre, collaborating with Alasdair Beatson, the Doric and Castalian String Quartets. He performed Attahir's Concerto Nur with the Orchestre de Lille and took part in the Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival with Renaud Capuçon. Previous solo highlights include recitals at the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston, the Morgan Library in New York and Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany.
He has performed Berio’s Chemins IV with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Bernd Alois Zimmerman's Concerto with the French National Orchestra, broadcast by Radio France Musique, and appeared as soloist with the Tokyo Sinfonietta in Suntory Hall. Olivier has commissioned and premiered pieces by Benjamin Attahir, Tonia Ko and Laurent Durupt. LSO Principal Oboe since 2015, Olivier's awards include First Prize at the International Oboe Competition in Japan. He was selected as a YCAT musician in London in 2016.
Daniel studied music at Clare College, Cambridge before deciding to pursue a career as a bassoonist. He was taught by Sergio Azzolini, Robin O’Neill, Graham Sheen and Ian Denley. Before joining the LSO, Daniel was Principal Bassoon with the English National Opera, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Co-Principal Bassoon with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie. He has recorded the Mozart Bassoon Concerto with the RPO, and can be heard on many film soundtracks, including Harry Potter, Marvel’s Avengers and Star Wars. When not scraping reeds, Dan enjoys going for a run and trying to catch his dog.
Irish-born Peter Whelan is among the most exciting and versatile exponents of historical performance of his generation, with a remarkable career as a conductor, keyboardist and solo bassoonist. He is Artistic Director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra and founding Artistic Director of Ensemble Marsyas.
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Keep reading to find out what's coming up next week…
Next week: Friday 31 July
de Falla arr Kreisler Danse Espagnol (La vida breve)
Tchaikovsky Melodie Op 42 No 3
CC White Levee Dance Op 27
Sarasate Jota Aragonesa Op 27
Wieniawski Polonaise in D Op 4
Carmine Lauri violin
Francesca Lauri piano