OUR view of a piece of music can sometimes be clouded by our belief of when it was composed. Somehow, we expect music in the 19th century to be romantic and in the 20th, modern. So if we hear a piece that seems ‘out of its time’ we might in some way find it hard to accept. It was these reflections which led Anthony Powell at the society’s meeting last week to present a programme of music which was all composed at broadly the same time. What was striking was how different and varied the pieces were: if asked, one might have thought half a century spanned their compositions when in fact it was around a decade. Anthony started with the overture to Jenufa by Janacek composed in 1894. Janacek was rarely heard until well into this century but is now a regular fixture in concert halls and his operas, such as The Cunning Little Vixen are frequently heard. He followed that up by an extract of the Sinfonietta, arguably the most familiar of his works.

We then heard some Elgar, whose Symphonic Study, Falstaff was written only a few years after Janacek’s yet sounded an age apart. Other pieces included the Claude Debussy’s tonal work La Mer written a year or two after Elgar yet again sounding completely different.

Another contrast were two extracts from Symphonies no 3 and 5 by Nielsen.

Nielsen is being heard more and more now and his symphonic works at least get performed. Anthony contrasted this with extracts from Mahler and in particular his Symphony no 1 written two decades earlier but sounding from an altogether different age.

A fascinating programme which illustrated well the variety of musical styles which coexisted in just over a decade. The next meeting concentrates on the saxophone as an orchestral instrument and details can be found at salisburyrms.org.