London Symphony Orchestra summer shorts
LSO St Luke's Jerwood Hall

© Matthew Weinreb

LSO St Luke's Jerwood Hall

© Matthew Weinreb

LSO St Luke's Jerwood Hall

© Matthew Weinreb

© Matthew Weinreb

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.

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.

It is a pleasure to invite you to join us online, and I hope you enjoy these performances.

Kathryn McDowell CBE DL; Managing Director

Kathryn McDowell CBE DL; Managing Director

Today's programme:

Scarlatti arr R Watkins Sonata K1 in D minor 
Wieniawski arr R Watkins Etude Caprice in G minor Op 18 No 1
Trad arr Coleridge-Taylor Deep River
Paganini arr S Parkin Caprice No 24 
Pēteris Vasks Castillo Interior
Monti arr S Parkin Czardas

Rhys Watkins violin
Rowena Calvert cello

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 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 Rhys

'Rowie and I decided to put together this virtuosic programme as most cello and violin concerts consist of the same select pieces being played time and time again. We were looking to present arrangements of music both new and old.

Today’s concert therefore begins with some Scarlatti. He wrote 555 wonderful piano sonatas and this is our arrangement of the Sonata No 1. We’ve included Wieniawski’s Etude Caprice, originally written for two violins, a fiendish piece in G minor which is beautifully suited to this combination of instruments.

Deep River is the melodic part of the concert: it's one of the most stunning and well known American Spirituals, arranged by Coleridge-Taylor. It's followed by Simon Parkin’s magnificent arrangement of Paganini’s 24th Caprice. Many of you will recognise the theme from The South Bank show in the 80s!

We follow this with Castillo Interior by Pēteris Vasks. Approximately 12 minutes in length, it was composed at the suggestion of the cellist Sol Gabetta in remembrance of the great mystic and Saint Teresa of Avila. It is without question, one of the most beautiful pieces we have ever played! The concert finishes with the Czardas by Vittorio Monti. A dazzling arrangement once again by Simon Parkin, which is nothing short of a race to the finish line.

It’s a wonderful feeling to be back playing in LSO St Luke’s after all this time. It is even more special that I am able to share the stage with my wife Rowie and finally perform all this music in such a perfect acoustic.

We hope you enjoy,
Rhys & Rowie

Talk to Us

Let us know what you think throughout the concert: join the YouTube live chat or get in touch on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #LSOsummershorts.

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.

Scarlatti arr R Watkins
Sonata K1 in D minor 
published 1738

London Symphony Orchestra summer season

Nobody knows the order in which Scarlatti wrote his 555 keyboard sonatas. But in 1953 the American musicologist Ralph Kirkpatrick had an educated guess, and put this one as the first.

It has the same two-part structure that runs through the other 554. A tune or motif is introduced and repeated in the first half before being looked at from different angles – or in a different key – in the second.

In this case, it’s a breathless theme that flits upwards and downwards, stopping only for decorative ‘trills’ (the rapid alternation of two adjacent notes).

The Italian musicologist Giorgio Pestelli referred to the sonata as ‘a toccata dried out and placed under glass’ – where a toccata is a light-fingered piece demanding extreme dexterity.

Programme note by Andrew Mellor

Domenico Scarlatti

Composer Domenico Scarlatti

Composer and renowned harpsichordist Domenico Scarlatti was born in Naples in 1685. The son of composer Allesandro Scarlatti, Domenico showed promise in his teens and was appointed organist at Naples' royal chapel. He later worked in Rome for ten years, where patrons included the Polish Queen Maria Casimira and the Portuguese ambassador to the Vatican. This association with Portugal resulted in a move to Lisbon, where he taught members of the royal family including Maria Barbara, a gifted and dedicated student. After her marriage to Ferdinand VI, King of Spain, she invited Scarlatti to serve at the Spanish court in Madrid, where he would spend the rest of his days.

Did you know...?
Scarlatti and Handel (his contemporary and a lifelong friend) were asked to compete against each other at the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni in Rome: Handel was named the superior organist and Scarlatti the triumphant harpsichordist.

We recommend…
Dutch-Russian pianist Daria van den Bercken's album of Scarlatti keyboard sonatas.

Wieniawski arr R Watkins
Etude Caprice in G minor Op 18 No 1

London Symphony Orchestra summer season

Wieniawski took teaching as seriously as performing, but didn’t want one to get in the way of the other. By adding the word ‘Caprices’ to his set of studies (Etudes), he ensured they could be used for both purposes.

Each study focuses on a specific playing technique, but does so with flair. The lesson here is how to negotiate awkward intervals and ‘trills’ – the rapid alternation of two adjacent notes (as used by Scarlatti).

The instruments unfurl a long tune, twisting around each another. The violin then launches into a frolicking version of that tune while the cello maintains a mournful song underneath.

Programme note by Andrew Mellor

Henryk Wieniawski

Composer Henryk Wieniawski

As a child in Lublin, Wieniawski was influenced by the many concerts and literary meetings that his home and family hosted. After taking lessons initially from his mother, he went to study at the Paris Conservatory in 1843, later returning to study composition. A major concert tour around Russia and Europe, starting in 1850, brought Wieniawski tremendous success. He would go on to play regularly across Europe, spending three or four months of the year doing so, and later embarked on a tour of the US.

In 1860, Wieniawksi was appointed first violinist of the Tsar's court, and soloist and teacher at the Russian Music Society, which in 1862 became the Conservatory. His teaching laid the foundations for the St Petersburg violin school and later took him to Brussels, were he taught Eugène Ysaÿe.

Did you know…?
The Henryk Wieniawksi International Violin Competition has been held in Poland since 1935.

Trad arr Coleridge-Taylor
Deep River

London Symphony Orchestra summer season

In 1899, the black British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor heard a concert in London given by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, an ensemble of African-American vocalists from Fisk University in Nashville.

One of the spirituals the choir performed was Deep River, an anonymous song whose longing references to ‘campground’ suggest roots in the African-American struggle during the American Civil War.

Coleridge-Taylor immediately arranged a number of the tunes he heard, including Deep River, for piano. He set out ‘to do for these melodies what Grieg did for Norwegian melodies’ – in other words, to ennoble their beauty and widen their audience.

Programme note by Andrew Mellor

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Born in Holborn in 1875, self-identified 'Anglo-African' Samuel Coleridge-Taylor began playing violin at a young age, taught by his father, originally from Sierra Leone. At 15 he attended the Royal College of Music, studying under Charles Stanford.

His compositions bore the mark of his heritage, with the heavy influence of traditional African music making Coleridge-Taylor one of the most progressive composers of his time. His music was so successful that during the course of his short career, he embarked on three tours to the US, was invited to the White House by President Roosevelt, and was referred to as 'Black Mahler'.

Listen to…
Scenes from The Song of Hiawatha Op 30 No 3, Overture

Did you know…?
Coleridge-Taylor sold the rights to his most popular work Song of Hiawatha early in his career, in need of the immediate income. After his death, concerned that his family had gained no royalties from the music, musicians used his case to promote the formation of the Performing Rights Society.

Paganini arr S Parkin
Caprice No 24
ca 1807

London Symphony Orchestra summer season

Wieniawski’s use of the word ‘Caprice’ was certainly a reference to the infamous set of 24 Caprices by Paganini.

It is said the showman Paganini only allowed publication of his Caprices to prove that he was the sole violinist capable of playing them.

They contain every trick in the book: double-stops (chords), harmonics (releasing notes other than the ones played), plucking the strings with the left hand and negotiating treacherous speeds.

The final Caprice contains all of those, as well as a tune so devilishly good it has been ‘borrowed’ by some sixty composers since.

Programme note by Andrew Mellor

Niccolò Paganini

Violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini

Born in Genoa in 1782, Paganini was more than a violinist. His virtuoso playing and carefully cultivated image sparked a frenzied response among early 19th-century audiences: reputedly, he dressed in black and did not seem to object to the association between his instrument and the Devil. His performances inspired both Franz Liszt and Robert Schumann to devote themselves to music.

Profile by Jessica Duchen

Did you know…?
Paganini's association with the Devil derived from his extraordinary and unparallelled violin technique – but rumours also suggest that he may have suffered from disorders such as Marfan Syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos, which might have attributed to extra long fingers and hyper-mobility of the joints.

Pēteris Vasks
Castillo Interior

London Symphony Orchestra summer season

So often in the music of Pēteris Vasks, we hear the nightmares of political oppression and a world gone mad as antitheses to nature, beauty, the promise of faith and the power of love.

Castillo Interior communicates that idea directly. It was written in 2013 and reflects on the life of the 16th-century Spanish saint and mystic, Teresa of Ávila, who spent many hours in deep contemplation of her faith.

We hear a solemn hymn, offered like a prayer, typical of Vasks. Twice this ‘interior’ is punctured by the frantic, machine-like music of the outside world.

Programme note by Andrew Mellor

Pēteris Vasks
b 1946

Composer Pēteris Vasks

Pēteris Vasks was born on 16 April 1946 in Aizpute in Latvia as the son of a Baptist pastor who was well-known in Latvia. Vasks began his musical education at the local music school in Aizpute. He subsequently produced his first compositions and also studied the double bass at the Emīls Dārziņš Music School in Riga (1959-64). Vasks continued his double bass studies with Vytautas Sereika at the Lithuanian Conservatory in Vilnius up to 1970 before his one year of military service in the Soviet Army.

Vasks's orchestral career had already began as early as 1961 as a member of various symphony and chamber orchestras, including the Latvian Philharmonic Orchestra (1966–69), Lithuanian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra (1969–70) and the Latvian Radio and Television Orchestra (1971–74).

From 1973 to 1978, Vasks studied composition with Valentin Utkin at the Latvian Music Academy in Riga. During the following years, he was a music teacher in Salacgrīva, Zvejniekciems und Jelgava and has taught composition at the Emīls Dārziņš Music School in Riga since 1989.

During the Soviet period, Vasks suffered under the repressions of Russian cultural doctrine due to his beliefs and artistic convictions, but the Latvian composer’s works have swiftly achieved widespread recognition during the past few years. Choral music is of major importance within Vasks’ ouvre. His instrumental works are performed around the world by renowned musicians and frequently used by choreographers.

Monti arr S Parkin

London Symphony Orchestra summer season

Instantly recognisable from its opening notes, Czardas is by far Vittorio Monti’s best-known work – a piece that places extraordinary technical hurdles in its players’ path, not to mention breakneck tempos.

Czardas takes inspiration from the Hungarian folk dance Csárdás (old Hungarian for a village tavern, where it would have been danced). Typically for a Csárdás folk dance, Monti’s composition shifts and plays with tempo, opening slowly (lassú) and building to a lightning-fast speed (friss). Originally composed for either violin, mandolin or piano, Czardas has been rearranged extensively over the last century, including for saxophone and electric guitar. The music we hear today is a 2010 arrangement for violin and cello by Simon Parkin.

Programme note by Joe Hardy

Vittorio Monti

An Italian violinist and composer born in Naples, Vittorio Monti’s music has mostly fallen into obscurity – but for his extraordinarily popular Czardas. Two generations removed from Paganini, Monti studied under one of the great violinist’s pupils, before enrolling in composition studies at the Conservatorio di San Sebastiano (now the Naples Conservatory of Music). He took up a position as concertmaster of the Lamoureaux Orchestra in Paris in 1900, for which he wrote several operettas and ballets.

Did you know…?
Csárdás themes have been used widely by major classical composers, including by Liszt, Brahms, Delibes and Tchaikovsky.

Listen up
If you like Czardas, you’ll love these irresistible Eastern-European folk-inspired pieces:
• Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen
• Ravel’s Tzigane
• Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso

Artist Biographies

Players on stage:

London Symphony Orchestra summer shorts

Rhys Watkins

Rhys Watkins, violin

Welsh violinist Rhys Watkins has an established career as a soloist, recitalist and orchestral leader. Rhys graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2005 and became a member of the first violin section of the LSO in 2009. He has since enjoyed performing in most of the world’s major concert halls and has represented the orchestra by giving recitals in embassies in Beijing, Tokyo, New York and Madrid.

Rhys has been a finalist and prize-winner in several major international competitions including the Jeunesses Musicales International Violin Competition (Belgrade) and the Paganini International Violin Competition (Moscow). Rhys is a member of the award-winning Artea String Quartet with whom he has performed at the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room and BBC Proms. The Artea Quartet have made numerous live broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and have recorded several CDs of the Mendelssohn and Schubert quartets under the Champs Hill label to great critical acclaim.

Rowena Calvert

Rowena Calvert, cello

Rowena Calvert, Artistic Director of the Hertford International Concert Series and former cellist of the Cavaleri String Quartet currently leads an enormously varied and enjoyable career as a soloist and chamber musician.

Rowena‘s wealth of chamber music experience with the Cavaleri String Quartet has included first prize at the 2012 Hamburg International Chamber Music Competition, second prize at the 2014 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and the ‘Special Prize’ at the Premio Paolo Borciani International String Quartet Competition.

As a soloist, Rowena has performed in the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall and Queens Hall, as well as making appearances at both the Manchester and Kronberg Cello Festivals. In addition to Rowena’s studies, she had lessons from Yehudi Menuhin, Mstislav Rostropovich and Steven Isserlis.

Rowena has recently enjoyed touring as part of the band for Hans Zimmer and with Nigel Kennedy. Rowena currently plays on an 1824 cello by Bernard Simon Fendt, kindly on loan to her by Nicolas Roberts.

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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Keep Exploring

Keep reading to find out what's coming up next week…

Next week: Friday 14 August

Judith Lang Zaimont 'Nocturne' from Russian Summer Piano Trio
Hannah Kendall A Winged Spirit
Rachmaninoff Trio Elegiaque No 1 

Belinda McFarlane violin
Jennifer Brown cello
Elizabeth Burley piano