Variations are simple. A composer takes a favourite tune (or makes one up) and then lets their imagination get to work. With each repetition, the tune evolves and transforms, until we’re listening to something completely new - and that’s where the magic happens. Here, conductor Martyn Brabbins offers three different spins on that one deceptively straightforward trick. Brahms’s chosen tune wasn’t really by Haydn at all, but he didn’t know that, and filled his ‘Haydn Variations’ with all the wit and fantasy of his favourite classical master. His friend Dvořák invented his own melody, and let it grow into a masterpiece as characterful as any of his symphonies. As a contrast, young British tenor Stuart Jackson and BBC SSO principal horn Alberto Menéndez Escribano dive deep into Britten’s Serenade – great poetry meets incandescent music, united by an unspoken theme of its own: the timeless magic of night.
Prelude: 6.45pm in the Recital Room (free to ticket-holders, subject to seating availability): Martyn Brabbins introduces tonight’s concert.
The concert will be recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3.