Thursday, 11 August 2022

Brief encounter with top pianist is in the works

HENLEY Symphony Orchestra will welcome a very special guest when they return to the

HENLEY Symphony Orchestra will welcome a very special guest when they return to the Reading Hexagon next week.

On Sunday, March 13, members will perform Rachimaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2 — made famous by its prominent use in the classic 1945 film Brief Encounter — in tandem with top pianist Martin Roscoe.

With a career spanning four decades, Rosco has performed or recorded more than 100 concertos. During that time he has worked with many of the UK’s leading orchestras, including the BBC Philharmonic, the Hallé, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

At the Hexagon, his Rachmaninov will be bracketed in the programme by Verdi’s The Force of Destiny overture and Brahms’s Symphony No 4 in E minor.

Musical director Ian Brown will conduct all three pieces and told the Henley Standard he is looking forward to working with Roscoe, who is making his Henley Symphony Orchestra debut.

He said: “I’ve known his playing for some years — he’s a very fine pianist, very versatile, and has a wide repertoire in the solo field, in the chamber music field, and has a big career. I haven’t actually heard him play this piece, so I’m excited about doing this Rachmaninov concerto with him.

“Rachmaninov had something of a breakdown when he was quite young and this is the first piece he wrote after that when he’d sort of recovered and got back on his feet, so it’s a great sort of outpouring of emotion with wonderful tunes — a big romantic piece.”

Verdi’s contribution to the programme — La Forza del Destino in the original Italian — dates from the late 19th century and is, Brown says, very operatic. “I mean, he was the great operatic composer and sort of everything he wrote is an opera. Even in an opening overture like this, which only lasts for 10 minutes, you hear the different operatic characters coming to the fore — the tragic and the dramatic and the religious — so it takes up the whole of life, really, all the different elements.”

The programme closes with Brahms, whose style Brown regards as “much more classical, in a way, than Verdi or Rachmaninov”, who he calls “two of the great Romantic composers”.

He said: “The music is highly organised, but very strong — it’s almost a sort of tragic piece. It opens with a marvellous theme, which is sort of rising and falling, and the key is E minor, so it’s a very serious key and it’s very serious music — but in a very beautiful way.

“This rising and falling theme expresses great sadness and then there’s a very rich slow movement. He uses the orchestra, particularly the strings, to make this marvellous rich sound, which the Henley orchestra I think is very good at.

“Then there’s a third movement, which is much lighter in feel, very rhythmic and dance-like, and then the final music is variations — a very classically organised movement, but very strong and very exciting.”

The concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £14 to £20, with a range of concessions available. To book, call 0118 960 6060 or visit

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