David Matthews has said ‘Muriel Spark always thought of herself primarily as a poet. The five poems I have chosen for the song cycle were all written between 1948 and 1949, eight years before the publication of the first of her 22 novels, for which she is now best remembered.
‘My five songs for mezzo-soprano and piano quintet form a continuous piece, without breaks, but between the first two songs and the last three there is an interlude to change the scene and mood.
'The first two poems are grounded in Muriel Spark’s experience of living in Africa during the Second World War. "The Victoria Falls" is vividly descriptive; "Like Africa" uses her experience metaphorically in a passionate love poem. The remaining three poems are free translations of Roman poets, Horace and Catullus.’
The Ensemble also perform Mozart’s profoundly moving Piano Quartet in G minor, and Brahms’ Two Songs for voice, viola and piano; these are lyrical settings of 19th-century poems ‘Gestillte Sehnsucht’ (Longing at rest), conjuring up a peaceful evening in the woods, and ‘Geistliches Wiegenlied’ (Sacred lullaby), a soothing cradle song about the Christian holy family. The evening finishes with Dvořák’s melodious second Piano Quintet.
RepertoireMozart: Piano Quartet in G minor, K.478
Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall at 6.15pm: pre-concert talk. Hear about Muriel Spark’s creative life from a panel made up of author Wendy Jones, a frequent chair at the South Bank Centre across a variety of talks and events; the eminent composer David Matthews, who has set five of Muriel Spark’s poems for voice and ensemble to be given its premiere in the evening concert; and Alan Taylor, author of Appointment in Arezzo – A friendship with Muriel Spark. Admission free
Change of artist
Victoria Simmonds (mezzo-soprano) replaces the originally advertised Sarah Connolly.
Book 3 to 4 events in the International Chamber Music Series and save 10% on tickets, or book 5 or more events and save 20%. This discount is not available on Premium seats and only applies to multiple concerts bought in the same series, not across two or more series.
Discounted student tickets are available from Student Pulse in the month before this concert. Some of these seats are on the stage. Download the Student Pulse app or register online