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the website of composer Nigel Hess

Suite from 'Ladies in Lavender'

Description: for violin and orchestra

Duration (mins): 15

Genre: Orchestral - Solo Instruments with Orchestra - Brass Quintet

Instrumentation: 0122 - 3000 - timp - perc (1): susp.cym/cyms/drum kit - harp - pno/synth - solo vln - strings

Commission Details: Written for the feature film starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, chosen for the 2004 Royal Gala Performance

First Performance: FP (rev vrsn): 14.6.2012, Cadogan Hall, London, UK: Clio Gould/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Nigel Hess

Availability: Score and parts for hire

Programme Note: Ursula and Janet are sisters who live an ordinary life together in a small cottage on the Cornish coast, until a handsome young stranger is washed up on the rocks in front of their home.  Nursing him back to health, Ursula falls for Andrea, whom they learn is an accomplished violinist.  With age not on her side, Ursula’s feelings can never be reciprocated and she lets Andrea go, but not before he’s been discovered by an eminent London violinist who makes sure the boy’s talent is revealed to the world. Starring Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, Ladies in Lavender has become a true British cinema classic. 

With music so key to the story of the film, composer Nigel Hess had to have a head start on his composing for it and so created the gorgeous ‘Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra’ that we hear Andrea perform fully in the film’s concert climax.  Originally performed by Joshua Bell on the soundtrack, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, no less, it’s a luscious composition that sweetly underpins the longing in Ursula’s heart and the mourning of the youth she has lost to time.  That ‘Fantasy’ opens this concert suite which moves through a delightful and moving selection of cues from the score, including the furtive ‘Teaching Andrea’, the wistful and evocative ‘Olga’, the toe-tapping ‘Zabawa Weselna (Polish Dance)’, the sweetly poignant ‘A Broken Heart’ and the now famous ‘Ladies in Lavender’ theme.  With the latter having since become a firm fixture on the Classic FM playlist, this music has an enduring presence.

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