The Third Leonore Overture stands as one of the great emblems of the heroic Beethoven, a potent and controlled musical embodiment of a noble humanistic passion. Too strong and big a piece, with music of rapturous, fiery energy as well as profound darkness, it was always going to be more than a mere introduction. Vaughan Williams’ best loved and most enduring Romance opens almost imperceptibly, out of which the ‘lark’ takes wing, rising, undulating, falling. The music avoids any tonal centre, written without bars allowing the soloist an almost improvisatory freedom to describe the ethereal minstrel. It is a picture of a perfect world; an intensely beautiful and idyllic tableau of English life that may have been lost forever. The last of Mahler’s Wunderhorn symphonies, the Fourth is the sunniest of all his symphonies. Displaying an innocence and congeniality throughout, it is an exploration of the idea of heaven from the perspective of a child. The title of the poem used in the symphony’s final movement is There is not a cloud in the sky. Elements from the song appear in the first three movements before it is heard in its entirety in the last movement.

Works and composers

Beethoven Leonore Overture No.3
Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending
Mahler Symphony No.4