BBC Symphony Orchestra at the St Magnus Festival - #7
BBC Symphony Orchestra
BBC Symphony Orchestra sub-principal viola Phil Hall relishes a strings-only concert, and Graeme Kay reports from the receiving end ...
St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall
So we are ramping up for our final concert on these fair isles, and the one which (if I am absolutely honest) I have been looking forward to the most. Our colleagues who bang and blow things have departed on the noisy turbo-prop plane southward leaving just the strings to perform a delicious confection of Elgar's Introduction & Allegro, Vaughan Williams's Tallis Fantasia and Strauss's Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings. As if that isn't enough we will play them in St Magnus Cathedral – a 12th century masterpiece in red Dundee Stone, at 9pm tonight.
Conductor's video relay to players in the Apse
Phil Hall on stage
Multiplatform producer Graeme Kay adds: 'Phil needn't have worried about masking Mike Leaver - I could tell from my seat in the audience that the 23 players were achieving complete unity of ensemble as much by listening to each other as watching! Lasting fully 25 minutes of unbroken and expansive polyphony, Strauss's Metamorphosen is a work of startling intensity, born of the composer's horror and grief over the destruction of the Munich Opera House in 1943, and the subsequent bomb damage to the cities and theatres with which he had been associated throughout his long life.
'With this in mind, as we listened, I was reminded of the sermon at the Festival Service on Sunday, in which the minister alluded to Oliver Cromwell's incursion into the Orkney Islands and his taking over of the cathedral – at the crossing between the nave and the transepts, where our orchestra performed, Cromwell had apparently used the space to tether his horses ...
- The concert recorded in Kirkwall Cathedral will be broadcast in Afternoon on 3 on Monday 1 July.
- Janacek's Suite from The Cunning Little Vixen, Alasdair Nicolson's Shadows on the Wall - Five Hauntings for Voice and Orchestra, and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (1945), recorded at Kirkwall's Pickaquoy Centre on Sunday, will be broadcast in Afternoon on 3 on Tuesday 2 July.