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    Elgar's Enigma Variations

    Until 14 May
    Online events
    Classical music
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    Sir John Eliot Gardiner , conductor

    Conductor John Eliot Gardiner joins the Philharmonia Orchestra for music of the past two centuries.

    It's rare for Gardiner to conduct the work of British 19th- and 20th-century composers. But it's precisely his expertise in the music of the Baroque era that makes him an insightful pilot through this fascinating programme.

    Michael Tippett's Fantasia was composed to mark the 300th anniversary of Italian composer Arcangelo Corelli.

    In Tippett's skilled and respectful hands, a movement from a typical Corelli Concerto Grosso – with its contrast between a small group of string players and the whole ensemble – is transmuted into a work of timeless, lyrical radiance.
    Greek myth, seen through the prism of Baroque theatre, provides the raw material for Benjamin Britten's 'dramatic cantata' Phaedra.

    This exploration of forbidden desire – Phaedra's deadly infatuation with her stepson Hippolytus – compresses all the emotional intensity of an opera into a 15-minute span.

    Alice Coote, 'the superlative British mezzo' (San Francisco Chronicle), sings the title role. Variations on a theme have been around since the Baroque era too, but most composers begin by stating their theme clearly. Not so Elgar, who has kept us guessing at his Enigma for over a century.

    His memorable musical portraits of his wife, colleagues and friends – and in particular the solemn and majestic 'Nimrod', representing his publisher – are a firm favourite for countless listeners.

    • Philharmonia Orchestra
    • John Eliot Gardiner conductor
    • Alice Coote mezzo-soprano
    • Tippett: Fantasia concertante on a theme of Corelli
    • Britten: Phaedra, cantata for mezzo-soprano & small orchestra
    • Elgar: Enigma Variations

    Where to watch

    Tickets are available via the Philharmonia Orchestra. You will get an email with a unique link to watch the stream. You can watch as many times as you want after that for 30 days.

    Please ensure that you have access to a stable WiFi network in order to watch the event.

    For full details on how to book and watch, see frequently asked questions

    Dates & times

    First broadcast: available from 7.30pm on Fri 7 May and available to buy until Sat 7 Aug.

    Approximate run time: 75 mins.
    Run times may vary by up to 20 minutes as they can be affected by last-minute programme changes, intervals and encores.


    Standard £12


    Online events

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