Durham Cathedral Choir Association

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The Palatinate Ensemble has, for many years, accompanied the Cathedral Choir at services as well as performing with the Choir and Consort in high profile events including the Sage Gateshead Concert in 2009. In addition, the Ensemble has performed a number of its own concerts; recordings of two of these, in aid of the DCCA, are available.

Holberg Suite

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

Evard Grieg’s compositional output is dominated by music for the piano and the voice, but also includes a small collection of chamber music: three sonatas for violin and piano, one for ‘dello and piano and two string quartets (one of which is incomplete). His personal style of writing, apparent in all his works is consciously based on Norwegian folk music.

The suite Fra Holbergs Tid (From Holberg’s Time) is one of two pieces Grieg wrote for the Holberg bicentenary celebrations in 1884. It was originally for piano, but he also scored it for strings the following year. Its original form takes nothing away from the quality of the string-writing: Grieg makes full use of Textures ranging from sparsely scored sections using only a few players to richly scored music of great emotion. A joyful mood is however apparent through most of the suite, from the lively prelude at the start to the final sprightly hornpipe. The moving Air is the one movement which provides a feeling of more serious reflection.

Toy Symphony

Attributed to Leopold Mozart (1719-1787)

The origin of this curious work is as doubtful as its score is entertaining. It was written in 1786 when, according to the popular legend, Haydn bought some toy instruments at a fair and composed a piece for them which was then performed by the orchestra at Esterházy.

Several versions of the score exist, however, variously attributed to Joseph Haydn, Michael Haydn (his younger brother), Angerer and Leopold Mozart (father of the more famous W.A. Mozart). Despite its appearance in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians under ‘Haydn: selected doubtful and spurious works’, the Toy Symphony is now generally thought to be part of a longer work by Leopold Mozart.

Whoever did write the Toy Symphony certainly made an impression with it: it may not be the most musically rewarding work, but it has survived the test of time, and no fewer than 15 other composers have written similar works (Mendelssohn wrote two, though both are lost). Scored for two violins, bass, trumpet, drum, nightingale, cuckoo, quail, rattle and triangle, it is popular with school orchestras and also with those who simply cannot resist the opportunity to relive their childhood.


Attributed to Roman Hoffsetter (1742-1815) (arranged by William Zinn)

This is the second work in tonight’s concert that has been attributed, apparently incorrectly, to Haydn. It is a movement from a string quartet which is now thought to be by Roman Hoffsetter, a monk and “obscure composer” who admired and emulated Haydn. One assumes that neither Haydn nor Hoffsetter would have thought of arranging the Serenade in quite the same manner as William Zinn: a single bow is used by the group and passed from player to player (a certain degree of extra choreography was added by The Palatinate Ensemble for the purpose of this concert).

Carnival of the Animals

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921); poems by Ogden Nash

Saint-Saëns was a composer, pianist, organist and writer; his main employment was as an organist in Paris. However, he was also a keen amateur scientist, which explains the distinctive qualities of clarity and intellectual order that dominate his music.

The Carnival of The Animals was written during a few days in 1886, while Saint-Saëns was on holiday, and was intended as a private joke to be shared only with the friends who were with him. Fearing that such a light-hearted piece would damage his reputation as a serious musician, he would not allow any of it to be performed in public during his lifetime, except for one movement: The Swan.

Among the familiar creatures represented by the different movements are a few less well-known members of the animal kingdom: People with Long Ears is nominally a representation of donkeys, but is actually a playful dig at music critics; and the Pianists are heard practising their scales.

Many of the movements include parodies of other works: The Tortoise dances a ridiculously slow Can-Can (with the occasional slip), while Elephants ironically quotes Berlioz’s Ballet of Sylphs. Saint-Saëns also uses music by Mendelssohn and Rossini, as well as his own Danse Macabre and several popular tunes. The poetic introductions were not part of Saint-Saëns’ original composition, but are a later addition. The words used tonight were (mostly) written by Ogden Nash.

McMozart’s Eine Kleine Bricht Moonlicht Nicht Musik

Prof. Teddy Bor

Mozart in tartan!

Palatinate 1.mp3

Palatinate Ensemble: Grieg, Mo-zart, Hofsetter, Saint-Saens & Bor

£ 5.-

Click the cover to the left to hear a sample of the CD

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Holberg Suite

Attrib. L. Mozart

Toy Symphony

Attrib. Hoffsetter; arr. Zinn



Carnival of the Animals

Prof. Teddy Bor

McMozart’s Eine Kleine Bricht Moonlicht Nicht Musik