The Wigmore Hall will shine a spotlight on the music of Brian Elias in a pair of concerts focusing on his work to be streamed live from the London venue on April 24. An array of musical talent has been gathered for the retrospective, which will feature chamber works composed over a period of more than 45 years alongside music by Elias’ teacher and mentor Elisabeth Lutyens as well as Ravel and Debussy, two composers who have been a longstanding source of inspiration.
The first concert will open with the earliest of Elias’ works on the programme - Peroration for solo soprano - concluding with his String Quartet of 2012. Inspired by the dramatic poem by Robert Browning, Peroration was composed in 1973 and is an early example of the affinity for vocal writing that was to become a hallmark of Elias’ output. Also included is the most recent piece, Arioso for baritone saxophone, which was commissioned in celebration of the Royal Academy of Music’s 200th anniversary and premiered in 2020.
In the second concert, two further vocal works – the John Clare song cycle Meet me in the Green Glen and Three Songs (settings of Christina Rossetti) – are each paired with a piece that draws on Greek myth. Pythikos Nomos takes its title from the musical form originally devised to depict the battle between Apollo and the Monster on the slopes of Parnassus. The mixed sextet Geranos, which concludes the programme, is inspired by the intricate dance which, according to legend, was devised by Theseus to rescue seven youths and seven maidens from the Labyrinth.
Both concerts will be streamed live in HD on the Wigmore Hall website and will be available on demand for 30 days after the performance. More information
Full details of the programme and performers can be found below.
Rautio Trio premiere new work
On May 30, the Rautio Piano Trio will give the world premiere of Elias’ Piano Trio at King’s Place, London. The 18-minute work is the composers’ first foray into the form and is inspired by Haydn’s piano trios. It was commissioned by the Rautio Piano Trio with support from the RWV Trust and PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund for Music Creators.
The concert, which is presented by the London Chamber Music Society, will be performed in front of a live audience and also streamed online. More information
Film: 'A Passage from India'
Viewers to the Wigmore Hall and King's Place concerts will be given special access to watch Barrie Gavin's film about the life and work of Brian Elias. 'A Passage from India' documents the composer's childhood in Bombay and early education in England, charting the evolution of his musical voice and recalling the influential figures in his career, among them Elisbeth Lutyens and Kenneth MacMillan. Details can be found on the website of each venue.
Wigmore Hall Brian Elias Focus Day - full programme
Concert 1 - Saturday 24 April 2021, 11:30am
Brian Elias, Lutyens and Ravel
Peroration (1973) for soprano solo
L'innominata (2018) for cello and piano
Introduction et Allegro (1905) for harp, flute, clarinet & string quartet
Arioso (2019) for baritone saxophone
Requiescat (1971) for soprano and string trio
String Quartet (2012)
Mimi Doulton, soprano; Thomas Hancox, flute; Jon Carnac, clarinet; Olivia Jageurs, harp; Rob Burton, saxophone; Daniel Lebhardt, piano; Castalian String Quartet (Sini Simonen, violin; Daniel Roberts, violin; Charlotte Bonneton, viola; Christopher Graves, cello)
Concert 2 - Saturday 24 April 2021, 3:00pm
Brian Elias and Debussy
Meet Me in the Green Glen (2009) song cycle for solo voice
Pythikos Nomos (1988) for alto saxophone and piano
Préludes Book I:
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir
Les collines d'Anacapri
Des pas sur la neige
Three Songs (Christina Rossetti) (2003) for alto and harp
Geranos (1985) for mixed ensemble
Kathryn Rudge, mezzo-soprano; Olivia Jageurs, harp; Rob Burton, alto saxophone; Daniel Lebhardt, piano; Gabriele Strata, piano; Thomas Hancox, flute; Jon Carnac, clarinet; Adrian Spillett, percussion; Castalian String Quartet (Sini Simonen, violin; Daniel Roberts, violin; Charlotte Bonneton, viola; Christopher Graves, cello); Thomas Kemp, conductor
Listen to the Brian Elias playlist on Spotify