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Images of the past, shapes of the future

The BBC Philharmonic is joined by Andrew Davis and Steven Osborne for a programme of Tippett, Stravinsky and Sibelius.

Live from the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester
Presented by Tom Redmond

Sibelius: Symphony No. 6
Tippett: Piano Concerto

Music interval (CD)

Stravinsky: Symphony in C

Steven Osborne (piano)
BBC Philharmonic
Andrew Davis (conductor)

Stravinsky penned his Symphony in C over 3 years, a period of seismic shift in his life. Starting the work in 1938 in Paris with his family around him, 1939 saw him admitted to a sanitarium to treat the tuberculosis that had recently claimed the lives of both his his wife and his daughter; there he completed the second movement. Moving to the USA at the end of the Second World War he wrote the third movement in Boston where he was teaching, finally completing the fourth and final movement in Los Angeles in 1940. His study of Haydn, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky's symphonies while he was writing his own bring shapes of the past to this work, one which, moreover gives no clue to the events that had been part of his own life while he was writing it, and reveal no reference to the events that were changing the world. Steven Osborne joins the BBC Philharmonic for Tippett's Piano Concerto, music of lyrical beauty influenced by his opera The Midsummer Marriage. It shuns the hard-nosed serialism pervading Europe in the 1950s in favour of an attempt to exploit the piano's lyrical rather than percussive characteristics and is unashamedly influenced by Beethoven's piano concertos. The modal harmonies of Sibelius's Sixth Symphony belie the innovative way he shapes time and structure in his later symphonies; but innovation wasn't his priority: "People write and theorise many things about the Sixth Symphony, but they fail to see that it is, above all, a poem", he said.

2 hours, 28 minutes

Music Played

  • Jean Sibelius

    Symphony No.6

    Orchestra: BBC Philharmonic. Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis.
  • Michael Tippett

    Piano Concerto

    Performer: Steven Osborne. Orchestra: BBC Philharmonic.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    Symphony in C

    Orchestra: BBC Philharmonic. Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams

    Symphony No 2, 'A London Symphony' (3rd mvt)

    Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Andrew Manze.
    • Vaughan Williams: Symphonies, vol.I.
    • ONYX.
    • 3.
  • Traditional English

    The Turtle Dove - folksong

    Music Arranger: Ralph Vaughan Williams. Choir: Opus Anglicanum.
    • Love Song.
    • Opus Anglicanum.
    • 019.


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