Rare live treats at City Hall

German conductor Markus Stenz
German conductor Markus Stenz

MARKUS Stenz makes his annual visit to the city as the Hallé’s principal guest conductor this Saturday in the Sheffield International Concert Season at the City Hall.

The German conductor has chosen an attractive Germanic programme with the celebratory preludes to Act One and Act Three of Wagner’s great comic opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg – The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, respectively prefacing the two halves of the concert.

Following the first one is a comparatively rare live performance of Mendelssohn’s Concerto for violin, piano and strings with Hallé’s outstanding leader Lyn Fletcher and brilliant young St Petersburg-born pianist Polina Leschenko as the soloists.

A mature, virtuosic work written when the composer was a stripling of 14, it’s in three movements and at nearly 40 minutes long, lengthy too, with the first movement being as long as the other two combined.

After the interval and following the second Meistersinger prelude, there is a Schumann symphony, also something of a rare occurrence in the concert hall, though a much more inexplicable one.

Most people will know he penned four and here we have the Third, known as the ‘Rhenish’, which was actually his last – chronologically, No 4 was the second but published last.

It was inspired by a pleasure trip up the Rhine to Cologne with his wife Clara, the highlight being witnessing the enthronement of the Archbishop of Cologne as a cardinal at magnificent Gothic cathedral and evoked by Schumann in the symphony.