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Penny Gore with music from the BBC NOW. Arnold: English Dances (Sets 1 and 2). Takemitsu: Toward the Sea II. Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto No 5. Britten: Four Sea Interludes.

Penny Gore presents the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in this week's 'entente cordiale' theme, with French and British music, including works inspired by the sea.

Afternoon on 3 today opens and closes with the two sets of Malcolm Arnold's English Dances. Both were written in the 1950s, designed to be Britain's answer to Dvorak's Slavonic Dances. These brilliantly orchestrated miniatures were inspired by English folk music rather than quoting directly any particular song, and they've remained popular ever since.

In between, we return to the sea, and - from a tour the BBC National Orchestra of Wales made to Italy - a concert from Modena given as part of a festival devoted to music and water.

Takemitsu's haunting evocation of the sea features solo harp and alto flute, a perfect impressionistic miniature. Nicholas Angelich is the soloist in the Fifth Piano Concerto by Saint-Saens - nicknamed the 'Egyptian': the music came to the composer as he took a cruise to Egypt and the Far East. It's full of musical memories from his journey, including a Nubian love-song he heard on the river Nile. The last movement is also said to include the sound of the ship's propellors...

We set sail back to Britain and the Suffolk coast for the Four Sea Interludes from Britten's Opera Peter Grimes. According to composer David Matthews, no other orchestral work - apart from Debussy's La Mer - is so successful in describing the sea in all its aspects.

Arnold: English Dances, Set 1
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
David Atherton (conductor).

c. 2.10pm
Takemitsu: Toward the Sea II
Catrin Finch (Harp),
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Thierry Fischer (conductor).

c. 2.20pm
Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto No. 5 'Egyptian'
Nicholas Angelich (piano),
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Thierry Fischer (conductor).

c. 2.50pm
Britten: Four Sea Interludes
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
Thierry Fischer (conductor).

c. 3.10pm
Arnold: English Dances, Set 2
BBC National Orchestra of Wales,
David Atherton (conductor).

1 hour, 30 minutes

Music Played

  • Malcolm Arnold

    English Dances, Set 1

  • Toru Takemitsu

    Toward the sea II

  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Piano Concerto no 5 'Egyptian'

  • Frédéric Chopin

    Mazurka No. 2 (encore)

  • Benjamin Britten

    Four Sea Interludes

  • Frank Bridge

    Mantle of blue

  • Malcolm Arnold

    English Dances, Set 2

Broadcast