National Symphony orchestra

NSO and Leonard Slatkin:
Wagner, Elgar, Mendelssohn, Debussy

Friday 3rd March, 2023

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National Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Slatkin
, conductor
Jennifer Johnston, mezzo-soprano

Wagner The Flying Dutchman Overture
Elgar Sea Pictures
Mendelssohn Hebrides Overture
Debussy La Mer

One of the world’s most acclaimed conductors, Leonard Slatkin, and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston, possessed of ‘one of the most generous and beautiful voices in the business’ (Prospect), headline an evening of four bejewelled masterpieces.

Hailed for his ‘marriage of passion and precision, formality and flexibility [and] expressive heart’ (Classical Source), Leonard Slatkin is a veritable legend in his own lifetime whose every appearance is an occasion to savour.

He’s in his element with the gothic grandeur of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman Overture, the glorious picture-painting of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, Debussy’s evocative La mer (The Sea) and the compellingly intimate drama of Elgar’s Sea Pictures.

Wagner’s first fully mature opera and first success, The Flying Dutchman is a supernatural tale of a blasphemous sea captain condemned to sail the high seas until released by the love of a virtuous woman – albeit at lethal cost to her. The stirring Overture is based on two of the opera’s principal themes: the eponymous sailor and his longed-for redemption.

Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture is a work of unabashed romantic sweep, surging with potent musical images – a masterly work defined by a poetry as timeless as the rugged terrain it describes.

Debussy’s early audiences complained they didn’t know how to describe his music, missing the point that it is meant to be experienced, to wash through and over you. Much like his liquescent fantasy La mer does. Music to close your eyes to, and be carried along by through gentle ebb and flow and delirious storm-tossed waves.

Elgar’s Sea Pictures cemented his position as Edwardian England’s music laureate. Setting poems by five authors (including his wife and Elizabeth Barrett Browning) that share a yearning for the oblivion promised by the watery depths of the sea, the music is quintessential Elgar: rich, ripe orchestrations lit up by baleful lyricism and a refined but heartfelt passion that is wholly involving.

Presented by National Symphony Orchestra