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BBC SSO - Beethoven, Shostakovich, Adams (part 1)

1 hour, 10 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 12 December 2013

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Chief Conductor Donald Runnicles and violinist James Ehnes bring us three masterworks from three centuries.

Live from City Halls, Glasgow
Presented by Jamie MacDougall

Beethoven: Symphony No 4 in B flat
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No 1


John Adams; City Noir

James Ehnes (violin)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Donald Runnicles

Written in 2009, this masterpiece by John Adams was first suggested by reading the "dream" books by Kevin Starr, painting a picture of 1940s Los Angeles as possessing "a certain sassy, savvy energy. It was, among other things, a Front Page kind of town where life was lived by many on the edge, and that made for good copy and good film noir". His piece doesn't refer to the soundtracks of those films - but evokes the mood and feeling of the era. You'll hear Jazz, Symphonic and American music, jumping from high to low energy - and the city can be imagined "as a source of inexhaustible sensual experience".

Paired with Beethoven's dazzlingly bright Fourth Symphony written in 1806, and the ominous twilight of Shostakovich's tormented First Violin Concerto, started in 1947, played by the quite simply brilliant James Ehnes, this is an evening not to miss.

After the concert: Llyr Williams plays Wagner's piano music.


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