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BSO: Elgar’s Enigma

Sibelius, Schumann, Ives, Elgar

Wed 24 Apr 2024

Artist: Tom Fetherstonhaugh (conductor), István Várdai (cello)

A work dazzling in its ingenuity, technical skill and range of expression Enigma Variations was an immediate popular success and catapulted Elgar into national and international fame. The original theme is remarkable in that it has the same rhythm whether it is played forwards or backwards, and the two halves of the phrase suggest two different keys that create drama into the melody. Sibelius’ last symphony shines with a unique radiance. It is the culmination of a lifetime of work in the direction of concision and organic unity within symphonic form; themes and ideas mingling together in a seamless tapestry of motifs. Schumann’s Cello Concerto is a thoughtful work, at times contemplative and questioning, at others stormy and tumultuous, even playful. Ives referred to The Unanswered Question as a “cosmic landscape” in which the strings portray “the silences of the Druids.” Over that quiet background the solo trumpet phrase asks “the perennial question of existence.”

Please note this concert is being livestreamed and some shots will include wide angle views of the audience.

Works and composers
• Sibelius, Symphony No.7
• Schumann, Cello Concerto
• Ives, The Unanswered Question
• Elgar, Enigma Variations