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Sir Simon Rattle digs down to the roots

The first concerts in the conductor’s Roots and Origins series with the LSO bring works steeped in history and folk tradition to the Barbican

14 September, 2018 — By Sebastian Taylor

SIR Simon Rattle is launching a season-long Roots and Origins series of concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican next Tuesday, September 18.

Being performed are three distinctive works, each steeped in history and folk tradition – Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, Janáček’s Sinfonietta and Britten’s choral Spring Symphony.

The following evening, Wednesday, September 19, the series continues with Janáček, Szymanowski and Sibelius, each transforming myth and folklore into soaring musical effigies. Performing Szymanowski’s first violin concerto is one of the world’s great violinists, the fabulous Janine Jansen.

Sir Simon has put together music for 15 concerts in his series, finishing next June with Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen in a semi-staged production directed by Peter Sellers.

“First of all we look back to folk music or the music from the land,” says Sir Simon reviewing the series. “It can be anything, it can be Ländler with Schubert, it can be jazz with American music. It can even be looking back to the music of much earlier times. For instance, Vaughan Williams’ Tallis Fantasia is a quintessentially English piece – but it’s also looking back very, very far into an earlier period of music.

“Czech music and Hungarian music are both very obvious right from the start. There’s a wonderful programme in which the entire first half is real hearty folk music from Central Europe – Bartók and Szymanowski.

“The second half has Stravinsky’s strange, wonderful, almost unclassifiable jazz piece the Ebony Concerto and Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue and Riffs. Then there’s Bruckner and Nielsen who have a kind of kinship between them.

“For me, The Cunning Little Vixen is the piece that made me want to become an opera conductor.”

• September 18 and 19: Roots & Origins: LSO/Rattle, Barbican, Silk Street, EC2, 7.30pm, 020 7638 8891, www.barbican.org.uk

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