Conductor: Jonathan Butcher
Soloist: Nicholas McCarthy
Overture Cockaigne – Elgar
Rhapsody A Shropshire Lad – Butterworth
Piano Concerto for the left hand – Ravel
Symphony in D minor – Franck
Being born without a right hand was no barrier to Nicholas McCarthy’s ambition!
We are very excited to be working with Nicholas McCarthy, a pianist who, despite being born without his right hand, has achieved his dream of becoming a concert pianist! The composer Ravel was asked to write a concerto for the left hand by pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who had lost his right arm in World War 1, and this is clearly a dream piece for Nicholas!
We open the concert with two English works – the Overture ‘Cockaigne’ by Elgar and the Rhapsody ‘A Shropshire Lad’ by Butterworth. Butterworth lost his life in action in 1916 and his most famous surviving work is ‘A Shropshire Lad’, based on the poems of A E Housman. ‘Cockaigne’ gives us Elgar’s portrait of Edwardian London, before the turmoil of the First World War.
To conclude the concert we go back just a little further to the 1890s and the most famous piece by the Belgian composer Cesar Franck. This Symphony was not well-received by critics when first performed due to its mix of French and German traditions, but its haunting melody for cor anglais and satisfying joyful conclusion make it, nowadays, a hugely enjoyable piece to listen to!