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Music from the BBC NOW. Bax: Tintagel. Finzi: A Severn Rhapsody. Arnold: Welsh Dances. Poulenc: Flute Sonata. Stanford: Songs of the Fleet. Roussel: Le festin de l'araignee.

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 BBC NOW continues the Cornish theme of this week's lunchtime concerts with Tintagel by Arnold Bax, a musical picture of the dramatic castle on the North Cornish coast with strong links to Arthurian legends.

Vernon Handley conducts from a concert recorded in Truro cathedral. We continue along the Bristol Channel to the river Severn for a short and enchanting Rhapsody by Gerald Finzi. From the same studio session conducted by David Atherton, we cross the Severn to Wales for Malcolm Arnold's set of Welsh dances, written late in life, a dark contrast to his brighter English Dances which you can hear later in the week. Further along the coast we come to Swansea, birthplace of Welsh flautist Emily Beynon, who is now Principal with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. A past Radio 3 New Generation Artist, Emily recently returned to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales to record a concerto CD: today we hear Poulenc's bittersweet sonata as orchestrated by his long-time friend, Lennox Berkeley.

More nautical-themed music appears on the horizon with Stanford's Songs of the Fleet, sung by Gerald Finley. Originally written for the Jubilee Congress of Naval Architects in 1910, this is a suitably stirring collection of songs, in turn solemn and spirited, including an evocative picture of great dreadnought battleships sailing at dawn. The final song "Fare Well" was to have a particular significance in the wake of the First World War. The programme continues with more French music, this time from Bangor in north Wales, where Francois-Xavier Roth - the BBC NOW's Associate Guest Conductor - conducts the symphonic fragments from Albert Roussel's anthropomorphic ballet The Spider's Banquet. And finally this afternoon, another ballet score - the one that took Paris by storm in 1910: Stravinsky's Firebird. As Diaghilev's friend the artist Alexandre Benois commented, "music more poetic, more expressive, more beautiful-sounding and phantasmagoric cannot be imagined".

Bax: Tintagel
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Vernon Handley (conductor).

c. 2.15pm
Finzi: A Severn Rhapsody
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
David Atherton (conductor).

c. 2.25pm
Arnold: Welsh Dances
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
David Atherton (conductor).

c. 2.35pm
Poulenc (orch. Berkeley): Flute Sonata
Emily Beynon (flute),
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Bramwell Tovey (conductor).

c. 2.50pm
Stanford: Songs of the Fleet
Gerald Finley (baritone),
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Richard Hickox (conductor).

c. 3.15pm
Roussel - Le Festin de l'araignée: Symphonic Fragments
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Francois-Xavier Roth (conductor).

c. 3.30pm
Stravinsky: The Firebird
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Thierry Fischer (conductor).

2 hours, 30 minutes

Music Played

  • Arnold Bax

    Tintagel - symphonic poem

  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140 (Chorale)