Vaughan Williams – Symphony No. 3 “Pastoral”
Nielsen – Symphony No. 3 “Espansiva”
16 June 2018, 7.30pm
Hammersmith Town Hall, London
About this concert
Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Pastoral symphony is a subtly beautiful elegy to the dead of World War I and a meditation on the sounds of peace. The composer himself said:
a great deal of it incubated when I used to go up night after night in the ambulance wagon at Ecoivres and we went up a steep hill and there was wonderful Corot-like landscape in the sunset. It’s not really lambkins frisking at all, as most people take for granted.
Carl Nielsen wrote of his Symphony No. 3:
The work is the result of many kinds of forces. The first movement was meant as a gust of energy and life-affirmation blown out into the wide world, which we human beings would not only like to get to know in its multiplicity of activities, but also to conquer and make our own. The second movement is the absolute opposite: the purest idyll, and when the human voices are heard at last, it is only to underscore the peaceful mood that one could imagine in Paradise before the Fall of our First Parents, Adam and Eve. The third movement is a thing that cannot really be described, because both evil and good are manifested without any real settling of the issue. By contrast, the Finale is perfectly straightforward: a hymn to work and the healthy activity of everyday life. Not a gushing homage to life, but a certain expansive happiness about being able to participate in the work of life and the day and to see activity and ability manifested on all sides around us.