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The Hallé

The Hallé

Leeds International Orchestral Season 2020/21
The Hallé

Schubert - Octet Listen 

Programme duration approximately 70 mins. Please note there will be no interval.

Programmes Notes - Please feel free to use your own device to view the programme notes during the concert.

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Octet in F major, D 803

Adagio – Allegro
Allegro vivace  - Trio
Theme and variations (Andante)
Menuetto: Allegretto
Andante molto – Allegro – Andante molto – Allegro molto

In March 1824 Schubert wrote to a friend: “… I have tried my hand at several instrumental works. I wrote two quartets … and an Octet … in fact I intend to pave my way towards a grand symphony in this manner.” The Octet, completed on 1 March that year, is widely believed to have been the result of a commission from Count Ferdinand Troyer. Apparently, Troyer, a member of Archduke Rudolf’s court, asked Schubert to model the work on Beethoven’s Septet of 1800, a work which had achieved phenomenal popularity. However, the octet follows the septet's model only in the number and general plan of the movements and the divertimento/serenade style - i.e. tuneful, relaxed and entertaining, rather than intellectually demanding. Schubert’s actual musical material – his themes and subsequent treatment of them – owes practically nothing to Beethoven’s example. Furthermore, the octet is a more substantial piece, in which Schubert “paved the way” for his equally extended “grand symphony” mentioned in the above quotation – i.e. the Ninth Symphony (the “Great C major”), completed little more than a year later. 

The Adagio introduction, rather orchestral in texture, leads to an Allegro in which the first theme contains the little dotted rhythm already established. Indeed, this rhythm becomes something of an obsession, appearing in many themes throughout the work. There are few bars in this entire first movement from which it is completely absent. The allusion to the Adagio introduction just before the recapitulation is an unexpected touch in what is a characteristically engaging movement – sunny in character, yet often robust in its rhythmic drive.

The lyrical and expansive Adagio begins with a long clarinet solo, paying tribute to Count Troyer’s own ability on this instrument. Following a typically poetic modulation, the second theme appears in the key of G flat. The prevailing serenity of this movement is rarely disturbed, until a strange passage near the end reminds us of Schubert’s tendency to juxtapose blissful beauty with dark visions of futility or desolation. There follows an exuberant and earthy scherzo with a contrastingly relaxed trio section, in which rhythmic momentum is sustained by the cello’s perpetual staccato crotchets.

For the theme of the variation movement Schubert salvaged a melody from his youthful opera The Friends from Salamanca. Written in 1815, this opera was never performed, but at least Schubert rescued this melody from obscurity. This kind of simple, “tuneful” melody does not lend itself to the type of variation technique in which the composer drastically transforms the theme beyond recognition. Accordingly Schubert relies on decoration and colourful, beguiling instrumentation, with the first violin bearing the brunt of the technical demands. However, in Variation 5 in C minor Schubert does introduce a change of character - shadowy and rather disturbing. Following the slightly faster tempo for Variation 7, the final varied reminiscence of the theme returns to Più lento.

Following a charming and graceful Minuet, the severe F minor introduction to the Finale is a surprising departure from the serenade character of the work, with the strings’ tremolando and crescendos creating a dramatic atmosphere. The ensuing Allegro, like the first movement, combines a generally amiable spirit with rhythmic robustness, but its progress is rudely interrupted before the recapitulation. At the equivalent point in his Septet Beethoven had inserted an interruption in the form of a violin cadenza, whereas Schubert dramatically recalls part of the Andante molto introduction, before resuming at a faster tempo (Allegro molto) for the bustling coda.

© Philip Borg-Wheeler 2011

Now in its 162nd season and numbered amongst the world’s top symphonic ensembles, the Hallé continues to seek ways to enhance and refresh what it undertakes, with aspirations to provide leadership through performance standards, education, understanding and training.

Founded by Sir Charles Hallé in Manchester, the Hallé gave its first concert in the city’s Free Trade Hall on 30 January 1858. Following the death of Sir Charles, the orchestra continued to develop under the guidance of such distinguished figures as Dr Hans Richter, Sir Hamilton Harty and Sir John Barbirolli. Mark Elder CBE became Music Director in 2000. He was knighted by the Queen in 2008 for services to music and appointed a Companion of Honour in 2017. In November 2011, he was awarded Honorary Membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society.

The Hallé has received many awards, notably from the Royal Philharmonic Society and the South Bank Awards, for its work in the concert hall and celebrated collaborations with other orchestras and Manchester organisations. As well as taking to the stage for around 70 concerts a year at The Bridgewater Hall, its Manchester home, the Hallé places great pride in giving over 40 concerts annually throughout the rest of Britain. Its distinguished history of acclaimed performances also includes televised concerts, frequent radio broadcasts and international tours.

Since the Hallé launched its own recording label in 2003, a number of its recordings have won prestigious awards including five Gramophone Awards and a Diapason d’Or. A further Gramophone Award was given for one of an ongoing series of recordings made for the acclaimed contemporary music label, NMC. In 2013, the Hallé and Sir Mark Elder’s recording of Elgar’s The Apostles was honoured with both the ‘Choral Award’ and ‘Recording of the Year’ (BBC Music Magazine) as well as the ‘Choral Award’ (Gramophone).

Hallé St Peter’s, a restored deconsecrated church in the Ancoats area of Manchester, has been a home for the Hallé’s rehearsals and recordings since 2013. Closed for expansion during much of 2019, the newly reopened building now also incorporates the Oglesby Centre, a hub for Hallé Connect – all of our activity away from the concert platform, including the Hallé’s family of choirs, Youth Orchestra, education workshops, community outreach and small-scale performances – as well as Hallé Kitchen, a public café that is open to all. The building was originally opened by the Hallé’s Patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex.

Over a quarter of a million people heard the Hallé live last season, of whom more than 70,000 were inspired by the Hallé’s pioneering education programme. It exists to create a wider enjoyment and understanding of music throughout the whole community and generates over 70 projects each year.

Coronavirus Information

As a result of fast changing Government directions in response to the pandemic and increased infections rates, there is an ever present possibility that our events run the risk of being cancelled at short notice. Customers are advised to check that the event they have booked for is going ahead prior to setting off. Therefore to avoid disappointment and inconvenience please visit our website, social media channels or call the Box Office on 0113 376 0318 (Mon-Fri between 10am to 4.00pm).

This indoor concert is a crucial part of the process in helping live music performances return safely for both artists and audiences. The following measures are now in place at Leeds Town Hall to ensure the safety and comfort of the audience during their visit:

- Hand sanitising stations on entry and around the venue
- Clearly marked one-way system around the venue
- Socially distanced seating arrangements with predetermined entrance times
- Socially distanced toilet facilities. We ask that customers access the toilet facilities before the concert as re-entrance during the performance may not be possible.

Face Coverings: everyone is expected to wear a face covering unless excused for reasons of age, health or disability.

If you are feeling unwell (or suspect you have coronavirus) please do not attend the concert.

Latecomers cannot be admitted.

Lift access to the stalls and gallery areas is available through the Box Office entrance. This is limited to one person/one family unit or for accessibility access.

Photography is not permitted during the event.

Customers are kindly requested to stay seated during the performance and remain seated at the end of the concert until staff advise you of your exit route.

Please be aware that there will be no bars/refreshment stations open before or after the concert and there is no interval.

NHS Test and Trace

Customer contact details and the time you are present in our building will be recorded for NHS Test and Trace purposes. In accordance with NHS requirements this information will be held for 21 days and, if asked, we will provide them to NHS Test and Trace.

Please be reassured that your information will be stored securely, in line with data protection laws, and will not be shared with anyone else. We will also not use your data for anything else like marketing. We are doing this to help reduce the risk of any local outbreak - by sharing your information NHS Test and Trace can quickly identify people who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and ask them to take the necessary precautions. 


£27.50, £25, £21, £16
Under 18s/full-time students/unwaged: 50% off
(prices include 10% booking fee)

Due to limited capacity and current social distancing measures, advance booking is required. We regret that booking tickets on the door is not currently an option. 

Tickets & Times

  • Sat 28 Nov , 6:00 PM