St Albans Symphony Orchestra (SASO) is set to celebrate spring on Saturday May 10th with music exhibiting a palette of exotic orchestral colours – including Scheherazade, Rimsky-Korsakov’s magical portrayal of tales from the Arabian Nights (7.30pm, St Saviour’s Church, Sandpit Lane, St Albans).
The 19th century Russian composer’s suite contains some of his most thrilling and inventive music. At its heart, lies the drama of Scheherazade whose life depends on beguiling her husband, the Sultan, with bedtime stories so gripping that he will forget his plan to have her executed following their wedding night. The Sultan’s loud, brassy music is heard throughout the work, in places threatening to bring the fairy tales to a grisly conclusion. But the story-teller’s own sweet theme – intricate solos for violin to be played by SASO’s leader, Jenny Wigram – wins through, drawing the work to its romantic conclusion.
Following the acclaim that SASO and conductor Bjorn Bantock drew in March for ensemble playing in Strauss’s Alpine Symphony, the spring concert programme throws a spotlight on individual sections of the orchestra. Strauss, nevertheless, features again with a performance of his Serenade for Wind : a melodically inspired work whose skilful scoring belies the fact that the German composer was still in his teens when he wrote it.
The string section will perform the Serenade for Strings by the 20th century Swedish composer Dag Wirén, whose name is less familiar than some of his music. The concluding march from the Serenade was used by the BBC half a century ago as theme music for its TV arts programme Monitor. The contribution from SASO’s brass section will be Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral by Wagner. The arrangement of music from the opera Lohengrin, has been specially prepared for the concert by SASO’s principal trumpet, David Rudd.