CoverThe Christchurch Symphony Orchestra is launching the Lamb & Hayward Masterworks Series on 17 March 2012 with a concert called Homecoming. It is a homecoming for two musical New Zealanders – violinist Martin Riseley and conductor Tecwyn Evans – both back from successful careers overseas.

Violinist Martin Riseley is a Canterbury graduate who studied at the Julliard and has a successful career performing with chamber groups, appearing with orchestras around the world and teaching. He is now Head of Strings at The New Zealand School of Music. Tecwyn Evans hales from Otago and initially specialised in composition. He began conducting in 1997 then moved on to became Chorus Master at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and then his current position of Concertmaster and Deputy Chief Conductor of Grazer Opera, Austria.

They are presenting a programme featuring Ritchie, Prokofiev and Brahms.

The season brochure tell us that the work by Ritchie was composed in 2009 at the request of Tecwyn Evans, so this is rather a unique chance to hear a piece written for the person who is conducting it.

CoverThe concerto is Prokofiev’s lovely second violin concerto which he wrote whilst living in the West, but not long before he returned to Russia (initially to acclaim, but later to endure the stranglehold of Stalinism). It’s considered one of his more conventional works and has a romantic pastoral feeling, featuring Russian folk and Spanish influences. Its early champions included Jascha Heifetz who recorded it twice and Berman. Later David Oistrakh and Perlman are also known for their interpretations.You can test out all these versions, and many others on Naxos before going to the concert.

Brahms’ Symphony is one of his best loved works. He wrote his four great symphonies later in life when he was at the height of his powers and the third symphony is the most optimistic of them. Rich, melodic and lyrical, it reflects his interest in both Beethoven and Schumann. Hans Richter, who conducted the premiere of the symphony, proclaimed it to be Brahms’ Eroica. Listen to performances by well known interpreters such as Bruno WalterKlemperer, Weingartner and Rattle on Naxos and get the feel of them before the concert.