Ealing Symphony Orchestra+Soloists+Gibbons

Operetta & Orchestral Concert at 
St Barnabas Church
Pitshanger Lane, Ealing  W5 1QG
7.30pm on Saturday 15th



Rachmaninov:                     The Miserly Knight Op. 24 (prelude)

Rachmaninov:                     Isle of the Dead Op. 29

Rachmaninov:                     Francesca da Rimini Op. 25


Conductor:    John Gibbons

Soloists:        Anna Gorbachyova (soprano)
Soloists:        Telman Guzhevsky (tenor)
Soloists:        Vladislav Chursin (baritone)


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The Ealing Symphony Orchestra is returning in our Festival with a programme that completes our romantic nod to Rachmaninov, with a concert performance of his operetta Francesca da Rimini preceded by his symphonic poem Isle of the Dead and the prelude to his opera The Miserly Knight.

   Reproduction of Isle of the Dead
by Arnold Böcklin

We understand that the prelude has not been heard in London since 1938, when Sir Henry Wood conducted it. This work does not exist as a separate piece, but is easily extractable from the full score - as was believed to be the case with Rachmaninov's permission. So this will be another "first" for our festival!

Isle of the Dead was inspired by a black and white reproduction of Arnold Böcklin's painting Isle of the Dead which Rachmaninov saw in Paris in 1907. Rachmaninov was disappointed by the original painting when he later saw it, saying, "If I had seen first the original, I, probably, would have not written my Isle of the Dead. I like it in black and white."

The music begins by suggesting the sound of the oars as they meet the waters on the way to the Isle of the Dead. The slowly heaving and sinking music could also be interpreted as waves. Rachmaninov uses a recurring figure in 5/8 time to depict what may be the rowing of the oarsman or the movement of the water, and as in several other of his works, quotes the Dies Irae plainchant, an allusion to death. In contrast to the theme of death, the 5/8 time also depicts breathing, creating a holistic reflection on how life and death are intertwined.

Rachmaninov with members of
the premiere cast (1906)

Francesca da Rimini is an opera comprising a prologue, two tableaux and an epilogue, the music complementing the Russian libretto by Modest Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It is based on the story of Francesca da Rimini in the fifth canto of Dante's epic poem The Inferno (the first part of the Divine Comedy).

The setting is in the Malatesta Castle around the end of the 13th century.

In the Prologue, the ghost of Virgil leads the poet Dante to the edge of the first circle of the Inferno and then descend to the second. In the first Tableau, set in the castle courtyard, Lanceotto Malatesta is about to go off to war, but admits that he no longer takes pleasure in war. Lanceotto is suspicious of his wife Francesca and envious of Paolo his brother. He plans to set a trap to catch them in adultery. In the second Tableau, Paolo and Francesca are together, alone, in a room in the castle and he declares his love for her. However, Lanciotto returns and fatally stabs them both.

The Epilogue sees Paolo and Francesca receding into the whirlwind of the second circle of the Inferno ....

The Ealing Symphony Orchestra is an independent orchestra based in West London. Established nearly a century ago, the orchestra has come to be seen as a leading voluntary orchestra on the London music scene. We have been under the baton of John Gibbons since 1994, and through this association promote British music by performing the less well known works of British composers.

Most of the ESO's concerts are in in West London, with a number of overseas tours, concerts further afield.

John Gibbons is a musician whose passion is to share music with everyone with an open ear! A versatile conductor equally at home on the concert platform, the opera pit or the Cathedral steps, John has enjoyed a fascinating career that continues to provoke and stimulate ever-increasing audiences across the whole spectrum of his music-making.