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1 December 2007

Saturday 1 December 2007 12:15-13:00 (Radio 3)

Tom Service immerses himself in the music of Domenico Scarlatti as the Royal Northern College of Music perform all 555 of his sonatas in one day in Manchester.

The life of composer and war poet Ivor Gurney is celebrated in Gloucester, and tenor Ian Bostridge talks about his year-long series of concerts at London's Barbican.


45 minutes

In this programme

Ian Bostridge
Ian Bostridge courtesy of Sheila Rock
British tenor Ian Bostridge is considered to be the quintessential Englishman, yet this is not how he regards himself. While his affinity for the music of Benjamin Britten marks him out as a champion of the English tenor role, the centre of his repertoire is in fact lieder and the music of Schubert, Schumann and Wolf. As he embarks on a self-curated year-long series at the Barbican in London called 'Homeward Bound', Bostridge explains how the whole series, from Britten's Billy Budd to Schubert's Winterreise, represents the essence of his artistry.

Ivor Gurney
Gloucester CathedralPoet and composer Ivor Gurney spent the last fifteen years of his life in an asylum. Having experienced the horrors of the First World War, and suffering from deep depression, his poems and songs reflect the nightmare of conflict. Yet, Gurney's music and poetry also reveal a deep and abiding love for his home county of Gloucestershire. Tom travelled to Gloucester Cathedral to begin a journey of discovery by visiting the places which were Gurney's pastoral inspiration. Kate Kennedy and Professor Kelsey Thornton explain the life and legacy of a tortured soul, with specially recorded Gurney songs performed by Andrew Kennedy and pianist Robert Houssart.

Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan WilliamsDirector Tony Palmer's new film about the life and works of Ralph Vaughan Williams, 'O Thou Transcendent' sets out to dispel the myth of Vaughan Williams - the emblem of comforting nationalist nostalgia - and establish him as one of the most unsettling composers of the twentieth century. Tom asks Palmer about his take on Vaughan Williams and reviews the film with Piers Burton-Page.

You can see the film on Five on New Year's Day.

Domenico Scarlatti
Single Manual Harpsichord after Atunes 2004, courtesy of Andrew Wooderson harpsichordsItalian composer Domenico Scarlatti had such a passion for writing keyboard music that he produced a total of 555 Sonatas in his lifetime. In a moment of madness, or genius, the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester decided to host performances of all of them in the space of just one day. Tom went along to hear the results. With more than 230 pianists ranging from 10-year old prodigies to post-graduates and professionals, this musical marathon revealed the endless imagination of Scarlatti's keyboard compositions and the disturbing obsession of the 'K'-number collector.

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