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Penny Gore presents a week of programmes by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales celebrating the 'entente cordiale' with music from Britain and France, and featuring works inspired by the sea that separates the two nations.

The week opens with a concert given in North Wales last month - at the Pritchard Jones Hall at Bangor University. Conductor Owain Arwel Hughes opens his concert with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales playing Sea Sketches by Grace Williams. "I've lived most of my life within sight of the sea," she said "and I shall never tire of liking at it and listening to its wonderful sounds". Much of her time was spent in Barry in South Wales, overlooking the Bristol Channel. This set of five atmospheric sketches for strings is dedicated to her parents "who had the good sense to set up home on the coast of Glamorgan".

Welsh harpist Catrin Finch is the soloist in the Concertino by another female composer, Germaine Tailleferre. One of the group known as "Les Six" in Paris in the 1920s, she was also a friend of Ravel. At the Paris Conservatoire she took harp lessons in order to write well for the instrument, and her studies paid off in her Concertino, which was premiered in America with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Koussevitzky. Ravel was one of many French composers to be commissioned for harp music in the early twentieth century - when rival harp manufacturers were competing to corner the market. The Introduction and Allegro was his showpiece for the pedal harp, and it's played here with a small string section, rather than the original chamber ensemble.

Conductor Owain Arwel Hughes joins us in the studio to talk about the last work in this concert, Vaughan Williams's Fifth Symphony, a serene and pastoral work written in the turbulence of the Second World War. Owain celebrated his 70th birthday last year, and from the BBC archive, we hear him conducting a work by his father, Arwel Hughes, who was a pupil of Vaughan Williams. We return to VW's music from the opposite side of the British Isles, his Norfolk Rhapsody, from a recent studio session conducted by David Atherton; and finally this afternoon, the Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales Thomas Søndergård conducts the most colourful of all French seascapes - Debussy's La Mer.

Williams: Sea Sketches
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Owain Arwel Hughes (conductor).

c. 2.15pm
Tailleferre: Concertino
Catrin Finch (harp),
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Owain Arwel Hughes (conductor).

c. 2.30pm
Ravel: Introduction and Allegro
Catrin Finch (harp)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Owain Arwel Hughes (conductor).

c. 2.40pm
Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Owain Arwel Hughes (conductor).

c. 3.20pm
Arwel Hughes: Overture to Owain Glyndwr
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Owain Arwel Hughes (conductor).

c. 3.35pm
Vaughan Williams: Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
David Atherton (conductor).

c. 3.50m
Debussy: La mer
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Thomas Søndergård (condcutor).

Release date:

2 hours, 30 minutes

Last on

Mon 7 Jan 2013 14:00