This concert, which marked the end of the 1816: The Year Without A Summer event at Kings Place, was based around Byron’s exile from Britain after splitting from his wife early in 1816, and his journey to Switzerland. Against a backdrop of powerful images of the Jungfrau by Alberto Venzago, pianist Louis Schwizgebel performed music by the likes of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schubert while Ian Ritchie and Di Sherlock narrated, reading from Byron’s letters and poems and Mary Shelley’s preface to Frankenstein.
The music was powerful and entirely appropriate to the setting. Somewhat to my own surprise, I particularly liked the modern piece, Judith Bingham’s Byron: Violent Progress. The readings of Byron’s poems and prose reminded me how much I love him – I think a reread of his work is in order.
CANTO I: Farewell to London
Byron – on his separation from Lady Byron (February 1816)
Beethoven Adagio sostenuto from Sonata No. 14, Moonlight
Byron – letter to Lady Byron (February 1816)
Hensel March from Das Jahr
Byron – Fare Thee Well!
CANTO II: Lake Geneva
Mary Shelley – Preface to Frankenstein
Liszt Cloches de Genève from Années de pèlerinage (Year 1: Switzerland)
Byron – I had a dream from Darkness
Hensel September from Das Jahr
Byron – to Augusta, from Alpine Journal (Lake Geneva, September 1816)
We are the fools of time and terror from Manfred
Liszt Vallée d‘Obermann from Années de pèlerinage (Year 1: Switzerland)
CANTO III: The Jungfrau
Judith Bingham Byron, Violent Progress (Melodrama)
CANTO IV: Onward Journey
Schubert Abschied von der Erde (piano)
Byron – Once more upon the waters! from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
Mendelssohn Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 14