Stanford’s latest concerto delights Durham audience
It is not often that student orchestras are thrust into the spotlight and entrusted with the first performance of a major new work, but that is exactly what the Durham University Orchestral Society (DUOS) did on 2nd March when it played Stanford’s Violin Concerto No.2. As part of a weekend event celebrating the life of British composer Sir Charles Viliers Stanford, the university’s renowned Chamber Orchestra was asked to perform Jeremy Dibble’s new orchestration of this work for the first time. Under the baton of Calum Zuckert, a finalist at Durham, the students were joined by eminent violinist and musicologist Rupert Luck who tackled the demanding solo part.
Jeremy Dibble, professor in the Music Department and acknowledged expert on British and Irish music of the 19th and 20th centuries, explained, “Stanford wrote the work towards the end of the First World War as a violin and piano piece in the hope that people would buy it in that format. Unfortunately, his music wasn’t very fashionable by that time and it just never saw print.”
Professor Dibble, whose authoritative biography of the composer was published in 2002, found time to produce an orchestration of the work over the summer. “I was able to study the manuscript of Stanford’s first concerto and compare it to his own piano reduction, and he actually includes a lot of the detail in the piano writing. Of course, there are some points where a little ‘licentious imagination’ is required!”
“The beautiful slow movement is an absolute gem, and reflects Stanford’s Irish heritage with its mimicking of traditional melody: straight from the mountains of Wicklow.” continued Prof. Dibble. “The finale is great fun too – actually, I think the whole thing is a great piece, and very much in that virtuoso style of the late 19th century. It is my hope that it can be commercially recorded since it certainly deserves to be better known by violinists, orchestras and audiences.”
Soloist Rupert Luck rose to the challenge magnificently, and gave a performance which was full of his signature commitment and flair. The thunderous applause echoed through the city’s magnificent cathedral – and what better seal of approval than acclamation from the Stanford Society and some of the composer’s own ancestors from Dublin.
The audience was also treated to a very enjoyable rendition of another rarity, in Stanford’s Concert Piece for Organ and Orchestra, with PhD student Jonathan Clinch as soloist. The DUOS Orchestra was augmented and the concert completed by Tchaikovsky’s mighty Manfred Symphony, with conductor Daniel Tate at the helm.
Addressing the orchestra during rehearsal, Prof. Dibble concluded “You’ve been made the first custodians of this piece and I’m sure the concert will be a thrill for you, a thrill for me and a thrill for Durham.”