Sorry, this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

Prom 71

From the Royal Albert Hall, London. Presented by Martin Handley.

A performance of two of Peter Maxwell Davies' most important choral works.

Westerlings imagines the early Norse settlers colonising Orkney in the 8th century. In one of the most virtuosic works in the entire choral repertoire, George Mackay Brown's poems are set alongside wordless seascapes, creating an enormously atmospheric piece which vividly evokes the cold and wet and hardships endured by the settlers rowing their longboats across the waters from Scandinavia. Sightings of whales and fish, waves and birds, culminate at landfall in a haunting setting of the Lord's Prayer, sung in the old Norse of ancient Orkney.

This is followed by another piece with powerfully Orcadian roots - Solstice of Light, for chorus, organ and solo tenor - which sets more words by Brown, charting the whole history of the Orkney archipelago. It begins as the islands first emerge from seas and ice, then describes the prehistoric builders of cairns and stone circles; the Celtic men and women who bring a religion of dance and light; Viking marauders who murder the islands' own saint, Magnus; and finally the story is brought into our own times to those who would despoil the Orkneys in search of oil, minerals and uranium.

Ed Lyon (tenor)
David Goode (organ)
BBC Singers
David Hill (conductor)

Peter Maxwell Davies: Westerlings; Solstice of Light.

Release date:

1 hour, 30 minutes

Last on

Tue 8 Sep 2009 22:00

Listen to every Prom on Radio 3

Listen to every Prom on Radio 3

Listen live or catch up