Jun Märkl returns to BBC National Orchestra of Wales

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This Friday afternoon we will give our last afternoon concert from BBC Hoddinott Hall for 2013. For those of you who followed the 2013 Cardiff Singer of the World competition, our conductor on this occasion will be a familiar name – Jun Märkl. This year’s Cardiff Singer was the first time the orchestra had worked with Jun, and we were keen to invite him back for a full orchestral programme as soon as possible.

Our programme opens with a relatively new work by Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa. It was premiered by our colleagues in the BBC Symphony Orchestra in February, and the composer won the international category at the 2013 British Composer Awards for the work. Jun brings this work to us having worked with and recorded works by the composer.

The first half will be concluded by a performance of Mozart’s Coronation Piano Concerto. That’s No 26 in D major for those of you who miraculously remember them all by their number, or even more miraculously, Köchel number - it’s K537. We will be joined by Welsh pianist Llŷr Williams.

Ibert is a composer I have come to enjoy increasingly, both to listen to and perform. Escales is not a work I have performed before, but after much listening and working on the viola part, I am looking forward to getting to know it. Ibert always has nasty, tricky, fiddly bits, but there is something so visual and romantic about his work that it just sweeps you along.

Rounding off this programme, a programme that I feel to be genuinely lovely, is Debussy’s La Mer. As regular readers will know, I have often struggled with Debussy, and have only recently felt that I could grasp the sound world of his music, and consequently, it is only recently that I have found myself enjoying performing his works.

I am very much looking forward to performing La Mer with Jun; in early 2012 Naxos released his nine CD set of the complete orchestral works of Debussy (with the National Orchestre de Lyon) to great critical acclaim. It will be great to play this work with someone who has been so immersed in the sound world of this particular composer.

It feels as though the September to December stretch of this season has been a very long one. Our winter mid and north Wales tour was a great success, and I feel that our Americana series at Hoddinott Hall was also a very intriguing project - albeit one that was very note heavy! We’ve gone back to ancient times with the Atlantis crew, seen off another Doctor with the Doctor Who lot, and, also with Ben Foster, poked our noses into the Hidden Kingdoms of nature’s smaller creatures (look out for that in early 2014).

To be honest, between recording, concertising, education work, and more recording, I feel practically blinded by little black notes, and am very much looking forward to our Christmas break.

There is a lot of exciting repertoire coming up in 2014 (Mahler 9 - whoop!), but first, a complete rest is undoubtedly needed. I wish all of our audiences a peaceful and restful festive season.

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales' afternoon concert is on Friday 20 December, 2pm, at BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff Bay. For tickets and information, call 0800 052 1812.

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