Musical time, measuring time, moments in time… This tour of music inspired in various ways by our relationship with time draws the time of the festival itself to a close.
Beethoven was the first composer to measure musical time with a metronome. The fifth of his sonatas for cello and piano is exuberant and profound by turn, and concludes with a tightly-wrought fugue woven between the two instruments. We are delighted to welcome back stunning Norwegian cellist Torun Stavseng, who partners Libby Burgess in the final chapter of our Beethoven celebration.
Britten’s Songs & Proverbs of William Blake comprises dark and thought-provoking explorations of human experience, in friendship, jealousy, inequality, and the passing of time: ‘To see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, And Eternity in an hour.’
With the arrival of the railways in the nineteenth century came the standardisation of time across the UK; however one institution to this day retains its own time, five minutes to the west of, and therefore behind, Greenwich. Christ Church Oxford was the musical home of William Walton, perhaps best known for his church music, but whose occasional, colourful forays into chamber music, as with these short Two Pieces for violin and piano, leave us wishing he’d written more in this mode.
Schubert was the master of distilling human experience into a single moment of time: his Wanderers Nachtlied is just such a gem, whilst his biting An Schwager Kronos sets Father Time himself as the coachman, setting our destinies.
The festival is brought to a close with two reflections on the end of life: Vaughan Williams’ stunning The Last Invocation, with melting violin obbligato, and Strauss’ ravishing Four Last Songs, his own last completed works, meditations on the autumn of life and the beauty of love. We are thrilled to welcome award-winning soprano Ailish Tynan to New Paths for the first time to close the festival with these enduringly beloved songs.
Beethoven: Sonata No 5 in D for cello & piano
Britten: Songs & Proverbs of William Blake
Vaughan Williams: Two Vocal Duets
Walton: Two Pieces
Schubert: An Schwager Kronos; Wanderers Nachtlied II
Strauss: Four Last Songs