AFTER quite a gap since the last offering in the Sheffield International Concert Season at the City Hall, The Hallé return this Saturday with gifted young conductor Rory Macdonald and two of the most popular works in the symphonic repertoire, Mendelssohn’s Fourth Symphony and Saint-Saëns’ Third.
Better known by their respective nicknames, ‘Italian’ and ‘Organ’, they also share in common the fact that they were first performed in London, each with the composer conducting, as commissions from the Royal (London, as it was in Mendelssohn’s day) Philharmonic Society.
Although Mendelssohn, on a tour of Europe (1829-31), was writing from Rome on the progress of the symphony to his sister Fanny: “It will be the jolliest piece I ever done, especially the last movement,” he became dissatisfied with the work, despite its highly successful premiere in 1833.
He even planned to write a virtually new symphony to replace it, which is why it only appeared in print for the first time four years after his death.
Saint-Saëns had no afterthoughts over his Third Symphony although he may not be overly happy with the prominence posterity has placed on the organ part. But it provides versatile organist (and pianist) Jonathan Scott the chance to put the scandalously under-used, historic ‘Father Willis’ organ through its paces.