220219 CUMS CUO


Vaughan Williams - Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus

Sibelius - Violin Concerto

Sibelius - Symphony No. 3


Cambridge University Orchestra

Jac van Steen - conductor

Leo Appel - violin

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The Cambridge University Orchestra performs a programme of Sibelius and Vaughan Williams with Dutch conductor, Jac van Steen, alongside violinist Leo Appel, recent St John’s graduate and joint winner of the CUMS Concerto Competition 2020.

The concert opens with Vaughan Williams’ set of variations on the folk song Dives and Lazarus, written for string orchestra with a prominent role for solo harp. The full orchestra is then joined by violinist Leo Appel for Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, the only concerto written by the composer. This concerto is symphonic in scope – from the depiction of baron wilderness in the first movement; the lyrical, song-like melodies of the second movement; to the incessant rhythmic drive of the finale, this concerto is a tour-de-force for both soloist and orchestra

The second half is dedicated entirely to Sibelius’ Third Symphony. This work stands in stark contrast to both the Romantic intensity of the First and Second Symphonies as well as the austere complexity of the later symphonies. The desire for maximal musical economy is evident in the opening movement, where the entire movement germinates from a small number of musical cells. The second movement opens with a gentle nocturne that pervades and returns throughout the movement, juxtaposed with darker episodic passages. Sibelius described the third movement as the “crystallisation of thought from chaos”, with the continuous changing of tempo and motif in the opening giving way to the chorale-like hymn theme as the movement progesses and the chaos recedes into the background.

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Cambridge University Orchestra is the University’s flagship orchestra, performing the most ambitious repertoire with world-class professional conductors and exceptional student and professional soloists.