Programme notes: Monday 1 October 1pm : Maria Marchant, Piano

PLG Lunchtime Recital at St Martin-in-the-Fields

Monday 1 October 1pm : Maria Marchant, Piano

Celebrating Sir Granville Bantock

A programme to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Sir Granville Bantock and exploring the imaginative and harmonic piano writing of Bantock and Sibelius with words from Dr Cuillin Bantock, the composer’s grandson.

Cloisters at Midnight

Memories of Sapphire :
I Largamente espressivo   II Lento cantabile   III Allegretto delicato

Two Scottish Pieces :
I The Hills of Glenorchy – Quickstep   II The Bobers of Brechin – Reel

No. IV in E minor   No. V in B minor     No. VI in E minor


Sir Granville Bantock: the first Principal of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, formerly known as the Birmingham and Midland Institute of Music, Elgar’s successor of the Peyton Professor of Music at Birmingham University and co-founder of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra – these are titles which firmly established Bantock as being one of the leading figures in music making of his time and yet the piano music of this fascinating composer up until this year, his sesquicentenary year of his birth in 1868, has remained virtually unknown.

Bantock’s piano music draws on a wide set of influences ranging from Scottish melodies, the Bible and plainchant to passionate fervency and whimsical miniatures. Composed in 1920, ‘Cloisters at Midnight’ is a setting of Kyrie Eleison for solo piano – perhaps the only original setting for this instrumentation – and is dedicated to Frederick Dawson, one of the leading British pianists of the time. ‘Memories of Sapphire’, published in 1938, showcase some of Bantock’s most impassioned writing for solo piano, inspired by a secluded beauty spot in North Carolina, one of many places Bantock visited in his extensive career as an examiner. The fiendish, virtuosic Scottish Pieces, published in 1918, are playfully crafted from traditional reels and demonstrate Bantock’s rhythmic prowess and imagination through his idiosyncratic theme and variation style.

The friendship between Sibelius and Bantock was significant for both composers, with Bantock being the first to conduct ‘Finlandia’ in the UK. Sibelius dedicated his Third Symphony to Bantock and in this programme, we hear a selection from the fluid and opulent Op 5 Impromptus, expertly combining the folk song idiom and landscape connotations in the impromptu style.

‘Saul’ retells the events of the history of King Saul from 1 Samuel and also exists in an orchestral form. The dramatic sequence of events results in fast paced action, repeated moments of tension and release with organ-like sonorities for the coronation ceremony. ‘Saul’ was premiered by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1920, being one of the first works the orchestra ever played.

©Maria Marchant, September 2018