The Academy of St Martin in the Fields (ASMF), and guest directors Joshua Bell and Jaime Martin, return to the ensemble’s spiritual home to mark the 100th birthday of its founder Sir Neville Marriner with a celebratory concert that reflects the orchestra’s illustrious history.
The ASMF, under the directorship of violinist Neville Marriner, burst onto the scene in 1958. Praised for its ‘precision, care, and consummate musicianship’ the orchestra became renowned for its crispness of ensemble and sophisticated delivery. This renowned full-bodied string sound is the inspiration for Errolyn Wallen, whose brand-new work evokes and celebrates Neville’s stylish interpretations of the classics. Alongside this world premiere is a return to the ensemble’s Baroque roots with Handel’s Concerto Grosso in B flat, a work that featured in early ASMF recordings and concerts (including its BBC Proms first performance). Handel’s elegant marriage of strings and winds is the perfect concert opener, a reminder of how the orchestra’s buoyant tone and Marriner’s brisk tempo brought out the colour and quality of neglected 17th century works.
Moving to the classical era, ‘Marriner’ goes hand in hand with ‘Mozart’. Sir Neville Marriner was a champion of Mozart’s music, his recordings of the symphonies becoming the hallmark of his conducting career. The ASMF under Marriner curated and performed the bestselling soundtrack to the film Amadeus. The gripping allegro from Mozart’s lyrical Symphony No. 25 pinned audiences to their seats as the story of Mozart and Salieri unfolded, and this performance directed by virtuoso violinist and ASMF Music Director Joshua Bell, will bring out all the drama of this much-loved work.
Staying in the Classical era and with ASMF alumnus Jaime Martin taking the baton, former members of the Academy Chorus perform the suite from Haydn’s Creation, a Marriner favourite; indeed, the ASMF pioneered the 1960s revival of interest in Haydn’s rich catalogue of chamber music.
Another Marriner favourite was Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia. Full of radiance and mystery, this ever-popular jewel of the English repertoire is simply irresistible and Marriner’s interpretations showcased the ASMF’s unrivalled string sound. While we enjoy the nostalgia that Marriner’s recordings of this piece evoke, there is nothing like hearing this beautiful work ‘live’, and this concert is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the orchestra’s 21st century interpretation under the direction of ASMF leader Tomo Keller.
Join the ASMF on what would have been Sir Neville’s 100th birthday to revel in the music that Neville loved and admired, and pay tribute to this extraordinary giant of classical music.
Handel: Concerto Grosso in B flat, Op.3, No.2
Mozart: Symphony 25 in G minor, K.183
Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Errollyn Wallen: World Premiere
Haydn: Suite from The Creation
Conductor/Director: Joshua Bell, Jaime Martin, Tomo Keller