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Britten Cello Symphony

Stephen Johnson joins the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and soloist Tim Hugh to explore the intricacies in Britten's Cello Symphony.

Stephen Johnson visits Glasgow for an exploration of Benjamin Britten's Cello Symphony, and presents a complete performance of the work by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Takuo Yuasa with soloist Tim Hugh.

Written in 1963 for the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who gave the premiere a year later, with the Moscow Philharmonic conducted by the composer, the piece is full of very dark colours. It uses the bass sonorities of the orchestral texture, like low strings, bassoons, tuba and bass drum, allowing the cello's tenor register to sing out of the mire. It has a four-movement symphonic structure, with the last two linked by a solo cello cadenza, which, Stephen argues, makes the piece more of a symphony than a cello concerto, as the composer suggests in the work's title.

1 hour, 30 minutes