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Larking at the Proms.

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Eddie Mair | 11:52 UK time, Thursday, 24 July 2008

First take a lark, then add music. Nigel Wrench has been listening to noises again and writes:

"Two brilliant men inspired by birdsong. Both among the greatest 20th Century composers. But there the similarities stop.

Olivier Messiaen, the Frenchman who wrote music for prisoners in a Nazi prison camp, and Vaughan Williams, whose most famous work celebrates an ideal of pastoral England, are featured composers at the Proms this year.

If this was a cultural punch-up who would win?

Yann Pascal Tortelier is a Messiaen specialist who conducts the fourth symphony by Vaughan Williams in the Albert Hall this evening.

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Here he is after a rehearsal with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in Manchester, where I met him. To the right is the orchestra leader, the violinist Yuri Torchinsky.

The rehearsal went so well that the orchestra was sent home early. Might be worth tuning in to Radio 3 later to hear the result.

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Here's another score, being corrected by its owner after the rehearsal.


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This is the rest of Judith Bradshaw, assistant principal cellist for the BBC Philharmonic taking her instrument through a tricky passage. Why are people who play in orchestras always so gentle and friendly? Or is that just an illusion?"

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