Bath's anual Mozartfest celebrates its 21st birthday
Bath's annual Mozartfest which opens tomorrow night is celebrating its 21st birthday this month with a packed programme of great concerts featuring some of the world's greatest classical musicians.
This nine-day, 16-concert, feast of first-class music performed by internationally acclaimed artists has once again been put together by artistic director Amelia Freedman.
The festival begins with the first of two concerts by the Nash Ensemble tomorrow night. This is the group that Amelia herself founded in 1964 when she was still a student at the Royal Academy of Music, and named after the Nash Terraces around the Academy. This opening concert appropriately places Mozart at its heart, with the composer's famous C major String Quintet.
The Nash's second performance, on Sunday evening also at the Assembly Room, is quite different in tone with an all-French first half then Saint-Saëns hugely popular 'grand zoological fantasy' The Carnival of the Animals. The actor Samuel West will take the role of narrator, and two pianos and a large ensemble will paint a witty and evocative musical portrait of creatures from the animal kingdom, including the elephant, kangaroos and, of course, the famous swan.
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There is always one Mozartfest concert in Bath's glorious abbey, and this year it will take the form of three celebratory works in praise of St Cecilia, the patron saint of music, who was said to have sung to God as she was dying. There are two odes for voices and instruments by Henry Purcell, the 17th century English composer, written for London celebrations of her feast day, November 22.
The third ode featured in this concert was composed nearly three centuries later by Benjamin Britten, who was himself born on St Cecilia's Day. His Hymn to St Cecilia is a haunting setting for unaccompanied choir of a poem by WH Auden about the saint and the nature of artistic inspiration. This beautiful and atmospheric programme will be performed by the renowned Gabrieli Consort and Players, conducted by Paul McCreesh, who has described it as the 'most ravishingly beautiful programme'.
Tickets are available for this Bath Mozartfest concert in Bath Abbey at 7.30pm on Saturday priced £10, £14, £18, £25 and £33.
Next week pianist Angela Hewitt gives a pre concert talk before playing an all Bach programme apart from a Beethoven Sonata that has been sneaked into the programme.
Popular clarinetist Michael Collins joins London Winds at the Assembly Rooms on Tuesday evening for works by Mozart – the Serenade in C Minor – Janacek, Ravel and Beethoven.
On Wednesday The Sitkovetsky Piano Trio plays works by Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven at the Assembly Rooms.
A popular feature of the festival, now the most important classical musical festival in Bath are the lunchtime concerts.
On Monday Christopher Maltman, baritone appears with Joseph Middleton and on Tuesday cellist Gautier Capucon plays works by Beethoven, Schumann and Grieg. The London Haydn Quartet appears on Wednesday and pianist Alasdair Beatson a week today.
Further details for this and all Mozartfest concerts are at: www.bathmozartfest.org.uk or from Bath Box Office on 01225 463362.
See listings for concert details