O. KNUSSEN The Way To Castle Yonder
H. PURCELL Three Consorts (1680) (arr. Benjamin)
M. RAVEL Piano Concerto in G major
G. BENJAMIN Concerto for Orchestra (world premiere) *
Sir George Benjamin conductor
Pierre-Laurent Aimard piano
*Commissioned by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, supported by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, and BBC Radio 3.
ABOUT THIS CONCERT
The Mahler Chamber Orchestra continues its close
collaboration with the British composer George Benjamin with a tour
that has at its centre a concerto of our own.
George Benjamin is one of our most important living composers, and his association with the MCO dates back to a concert in Lucerne in 2009. A bond was formed, because three years later we reunited in Aix-en-Provence, this time for the premiere of Benjamin's first large-scale opera, Written on Skin. Few could doubt that this was already one of the great works of the century. But what made the experience so special was the fact that this captivating score had been crafted specifically to suit the MCO's sound.
Nine years and many more collaborations later, and Benjamin has again emerged with a major work that is expressly created for – and this time, dedicated to – our orchestra. His first purely orchestral work in almost two decades, George Benjamin's Concerto for Orchestra receives its world premiere at the 2021 BBC Proms, where the MCO has the distinction of being the only international orchestra performing.
Intimately connected to the Concerto is another British composer, the late Oliver Knussen, in whose memory the work is written. The programme, conducted by Benjamin, begins with The Way to Castle Yonder, Knussen's self-styled "pot-pourri" of orchestral interludes taken from the opera Higglety Pigglety Pop!, a tender and humorous requiem for Maurice Sendak's dog. Passing through consorts of Purcell, in brand new arrangements by Benjamin, the British theme takes pause for Ravel's vibrant Piano Concerto in G major, played by another close collaborator of both the MCO and Benjamin, the French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard.
The Mahler Chamber Orchestra's appearance at the 2021 BBC Proms is generously supported by the Karolina Blaberg Stiftung.