LSO St Luke
Exiled from the Barbican during the pandemic lockdown, the London Symphony Orchestra made inventive use of its LSO St Luke's space nearby to continue performing. These concerts were streamed, but because the socially-distanced orchestra took up all the space downstairs, very limited audience numbers were permitted up in the balcony. Even there, we occasionally had to share the space with the brass section! But now, LSO St Luke’s can return to its chamber music and song recital normality – and greater audience numbers – with a new season of lunchtime and early evening concerts, all recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3. 

This autumn there are two mini-series to look forward to at LSO St Luke’s. “Haydn Plus” is a four concert series where Haydn’s works are paired with later works that bear his influence. And viola superstar Antoine Tamestit, who is subject of an Artist Portrait series with the LSO in the Barbican, curates his own contemporary chamber series at St Luke’s. 

French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet kicks off the series with a lunchtime recital. He uses Joseph Haydn’s energetic Piano Sonata no. 31 in A flat major as a springboard into a sonata by Muzio Clementi which is full of surprises and then Franz Liszt’s craggy Grosses Konzertsolo – a precursor to the great Sonata in B minor which he later recast for two pianos as the Concerto pathétique

Haydn’s symphonies and string quartets are familiar to many listeners – he was a pioneer in the development of both genres – but his songs are less well known. Bass-baritone Ashley Riches opens his early evening recital with six songs, including three to English texts. He and pianist Joseph Middleton follow these with songs by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, a composer better known for his piano writing, before closing with four songs by the greatest Lieder composer, Franz Schubert. 

Antoine Tamestit
© Philippe Matsas
Haydn was also a pioneer of the piano trio. Trio Karénine, formed in Paris in 2009, begin their programme with his two-movement Piano Trio no. 22 in A major, composed in 1785. The publication of Erich Korngold’s Piano Trio in D major in 1910 stunned the musical world… because the composer was only 13 years old (perhaps having Wolfgang as a middle name was prophetic!). There is a fin-de-siècle lushness to the writing which is immediately appealing. In between, a miniature masterpiece by Schubert, his sublime Notturno

Haydn had a great influence on the young Beethoven, not least in his writing for string quartet. The Aris Quartet pairs late Haydn – the first of the Op.76 collection, known as the “Fifths” because of the falling perfect fifths at the very beginning – with early Beethoven, Op.18 no. 1, published just a few years after Haydn’s. 

Antoine Tamestit has long been a champion of contemporary music. During his Artist Portrait with the LSO in October he performs Jörg Widmann’s Viola Concerto, a work composed for him, and his LSO St Luke’s residency includes some intriguing collaborations. Most instrumental recitals are accompanied by a pianist, but Tamestit’s first programme sees him performing in tandem with percussionist Colin Currie, which includes the world premiere of Bethan Morgan-Williams’ Dog in the Moon

Widmann appears as both composer and clarinettist in a lunchtime programme on 15th October. As well as performing Widmann’s Fantasie, they team up for four of Max Bruch’s Pieces for Clarinet, Viola and Piano, Kurtág’s Hommage à Robert Schumann and Mozart’s “Kegelstatt” Trio, nicknamed because legend has it he composed it whilst relaxing with friends at a skittle alley! 

There is more Kurtág (Signs, Games and Messages for solo viola) and Mozart (the glorious String Quintet in C major, K515) in his final programme, where he is joined by the Arod Quartet, but in between Tamestit goes solo. In an early evening rush hour recital on 15th October, he performs three of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suites on the viola. It was because he fell in love with these works at the age of ten that Tamestit switched from the violin to viola, his teacher having explained to him that changing to cello would mean re-learning his entire technique from scratch… so she gave him a viola to try instead and his “love affair at first sight” with the instrument began! 

Click here to view the autumn events at LSO St Luke’s 

This preview was sponsored by LSO Productions