On 25 and 26 May Nicholas Daniel and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra give the first Finnish performances of David Matthews’ The Flaying of Marsyas, his concertino for oboe, solo violin, and strings. Daniel, who leads the ensemble as well as performing the solo part, is joined by violinist Sara Hakaste for the performances in Rovaniemi.
Daniel and the Britten Sinfonia premiered this larger-scale version of the 1987 work in 2013 (originally for oboe and string quartet). He has collaborated with Matthews for decades, giving premieres of the Oboe Concerto (1992), A Little Threnody for cor anglais (1993), A Congress of Passions (in both chamber and chamber orchestra versions) and most recently Matthews’ Oboe Sonata, premiered last year at the Presteigne Festival.
The Flaying of Marsyas is inspired by Titian’s painting; as with several of Matthews’ pieces it draws on a mythological subject and reflects his Classical education. Matthews’ 18-minute piece depicts the satyr Marsyas skinned alive by Apollo after losing their musical contest. It imagines the music played by a figure in the scene and depicts the struggle of Marsyas’ oboe with Apollo’s violin.
David Matthews celebrates his 80th birthday this year, which was marked by a studio concert from the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester in March; their performance of Matthews’ Chaconne (1988) is available to stream here. This summer his music will also be celebrated with performances at the Deal and Presteigne festivals, with whom he has had a longstanding association. On 10 June the Kreutzer Quartet premiere Matthews’ String Quartet No.17 at the Aldeburgh Festival; the quartet have been keen champions of his chamber music.