I Musicanti at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18: Alexandra and the Russians

 

ALEX-HARWOOD-Photo1  Leon Bosch Sts2

I Musicanti and their artistic director Leon Bosch return to St John’s Smith Square for ‘Alexandra and the Russians’, a second season of work from the chamber music repertoire partnered with new commissions.

While the emphasis is on grand music from the time of imperial Russia in the shape of Tchaikovsky, Glinka and Arensky (including some relatively unfamiliar works and uncommon instrumental formations), the series adds mordant contributions from later in the 20th century too. Each programme in the four-concert series also presents a new piece by featured artist Alexandra Harwood, a British composer known particularly for her music for screen and stage.

Sunday 3 September, 3pm
with Martin Roscoe, piano
Arensky: Piano Quintet op 51
Alexandra Harwood: new work
Schnittke: Hymnus II
Glinka: Sextet

Two classics of Russian chamber music for piano and strings, with their triumphal introductory piano chords, contrast with a mysterious exploration of the lowest (and the not so low) string sounds. The programme also features the first of four works written for this series by award-winning film composer Alexandra Harwood.

Saturday 4 November, 7.30pm
with Leon Bosch, conductor
Arensky: Tchaikovsky Variations
Tchaikovsky, arr Stephenson: Rococo Variations
Alexandra Harwood: Sinfonia Concertante
Shostakovich, arr Stasevich: Sinfonietta after the String Quartet no 8

I Musicanti becomes string orchestra to perform re-workings of three Russian originals: Arensky’s own version of a Tchaikovsky miniature, a re-orchestration of a Tchaikovsky classic and Shostakovich’s eighth quartet in a version for strings and timpani. The programme also features a second work written for this series by Alexandra Harwood.

Sunday 21 January, 3pm
Arensky: String Quartet no 2, op 35
Alexandra Harwood: new work
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence

Arensky wrote his quartet, with its solitary violin and pair of cellos, in memory of Tchaikovsky, quoting one of his themes as well as Russian folksong and funeral music. A memento of a different kind, partly written in Tuscany, ends a concert which also features new work by Alexandra Harwood.

Sunday 3 June, 3pm
Prokofiev: Quintet op 39
Smirnov: Dialogues in the Dark
Alexandra Harwood: new work
Glinka: Septet

Unusual instrumental combinations distinguish the final programme of this series: Prokofiev’s ballet-inspired quintet (without cello) and Glinka’s septet (without viola) both also feature the oboe among their wind instrument members. Alongside a duo for violin and double bass, the programme includes a new work by award-winning film composer Alexandra Harwood.

VIDEO

 

REVIEWS & PRESS COVERAGE

Meet the Artist – Alexandra Harwood, composer

The Cross-Eyed Pianist –  I MUSICANTI MAKE A WELCOME RETURN TO ST JOHN’S SMITH SQUARE

Planet Hugili – Holy chants and apocalyptic mayhem (and more besides)