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Memorable evening of Stamford, Grieg and Puccini at Petersfield Music Festival!

Paul Spicer and Stephen Scotchmer conducted the Festival Chorus and Basingstoke Symphony Orchestra in a programme of picturesque music from across Europe, with soloists Ed Ballard, baritone and Samuel Stopford, tenor making their second appearance at the festival.

By 1910, when Stanford wrote the Songs of the Fleet, he was the grand old man of British music. As we might expect from the period, the fast movements have their share of cheery Edwardian gung-ho, whilst the slow movements have a haunting and timeless beauty. Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, by contrast, was the 22-year-old composer’s graduation exercise. As such, it shows his mastery of harmony and counterpoint, with a massive fugue concluding the Gloria. However, inspired by a performance of Verdi’s Aïda, he had already decided to compose operas, and it is easy to imagine the soloists and chorus as operatic characters, with their sweeping melodies, emotional gestures and dramatic orchestral accompaniment.

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