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Mozart: The Magic Flute Overture

Mahler: Rückert Lieder

Soloist: Elinor Rolfe Johnson

Mahler; Symphony No 1

 Tickets are £15, £13 (concessions). Under 25s free.

Next Concert

Saturday 13th April 2019:

Mozart and Mahler


St Botolph's Church, Colchester


Elinor Rolfe Johnson, our soloist in Mahler’s Rückert Lieder, gave her debut recital at the Wigmore Hall in September 2013. Subsequently the venues at which she has performed have included the Theatre Royal Glasgow, L'Archeveche and Grand Theatre Aix-en-Provence, St John's Smith Square, Leeds Town Hall, Snape Maltings and St. George’s Hanover Square. Elinor’s song repertoire includes works by Britten, Poulenc, Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, Debussy and Strauss and Oratorio by Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Handel, Tippet, Vaughan Williams and Brahms.

Mahler’s music has wonderful melodies. He composed simple melodic lines that conveyed complex emotions. Sometimes Mahler was so attached to the melodies of his songs that he reused them in his symphonies. The Rückert Lieder is a song cycle of five Lieder based on poems written by Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866). These lyric romantic poems attracted Mahler to compose the songs. The Lieder ‘Liebst du um Schönheit (‘If you love for beauty’) was a present from Mahler to his wife Alma. In ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen’ (‘I am lost to the world’) the poem has a tone of peaceful resignation that is brilliantly captured in the music. The longest song in the set ‘Um Mitternacht’ (At midnight’) has many changes of tempo and draws us deeper into the night.

Mahler wrote his First Symphony whilst he was second conductor at the Leipzig Opera. He was then 29 years old when he conducted its first performance in 1889. This was a new kind of symphony that combined the narrative of a symphonic poem with the structure of earlier models of the symphony. Mahler made changes to the symphony throughout his life - we will be playing the 1905 version. The slow movement starts with the well-known tune of Frère Jacques played by the double- basses but in a minor key.

We start our concert with the Overture from the opera, The Magic Flute. This was the first opera Mozart composed for commercial theatre, (the equivalent of today’s musical) rather than on commission from an aristocratic court. Mozart needed the money and sadly had he lived longer it is very likely that the Magic Flute, playing to full houses and enthusiastic audiences, would have helped change his financial position. The overture is one of Mozart’s greatest – a sparkling tune combined with a brilliant use of counterpoint and dynamic contrasts. The opera remains very popular and is one of the most performed operas world-wide.

Tickets may be purchased at the door or reserved in advance by either ‘phoning 01206 271128 or emailing

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