Elgar Symphony Concert, 14th March 2009

Russian violin star

English symphonic genius combines with Nordic passions for SASO’s spring concert

A darkly passionate violin concerto by Finland’s most celebrated composer and arguably the greatest symphony ever written by an Englishman will be brought together by St Albans Symphony Orchestra for its spring concert on Saturday March 14th (7.30pm, St Saviour’s Church, Sandpit Lane, St Albans).

The 27-year old Moscow-born virtuoso Anna-Liisa Bezrodny will be the soloist in the Violin Concerto by Jean Sibelius. Her playing has already won her a clutch international awards, including First Prize at the age of 16 in the Sibelius Academy’s Violin Competition in Finland, the country where she grew up. After moving to study in London, she won the Guildhall School’s prestigious Gold Award in 2006 and has since appeared as a soloist with orchestras in Russia, Estonia, Finland and Spain as well as Britain.

The Sibelius work – the composer’s only concerto – was first performed in 1904 when its taxing demands on the soloist were immediately apparent. The music is truly symphonic and offers a memorable combination of haunting melodies and compelling rhythms, including a dazzling finale (once likened to a “polonaise for polar bears”).

The Symphony No 1 by Sir Edward Elgar was described by its first conductor in 1908 as “the greatest symphony of modern times.” Its ardent, emotional undertow and the brilliance of its construction have, however, been underestimated by some critics, apparently misled by the ‘pomp and circumstance’ of its noble opening theme. Most now agree that the symphony’s changing moods reflect Elgar’s contradictory personality far better than his Edwardian pride in empire. The concert, under the baton of SASO’s conductor James Ross will open with the Helios Overture written by the Danish composer Carl Nielsen during a 1903 holiday in Greece. It paints an evocative musical picture of the sun rising (and eventually setting) over the Aegean sea.

Tickets, price £12 and £8 (£1 under-18s, £5 students) are available from the SASO ticket secretary (01727 857422) or on the door.