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The world premiere of John Tavener's 20th-century classic, The Protecting Veil

Oliver Knussen conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in works by three 20th-century British composers, including the first performance of John Tavener's The Protecting Veil.

In 2020, BBC Radio 3 is bringing together musical greats, from the past and the present, in one extraordinary Proms season. Radio 3 is broadcasting the best of four decades of unmissable Proms concerts.

Kate Molleson introduces a Prom from 1989 conducted by the late Oliver Knussen, one of the most respected figures in British contemporary music. She is also joined by the soloist in tonight's concert, cellist Steven Isserlis.

Knussen composed his Flourish with Fireworks for American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, to reflect a shared admiration for the music of Stravinsky, here represented in the symphonic poem he made in 1917 from his opera The Nightingale. Song of the Nightingale later became a successful ballet, with choreography by Massine and later Balanchine.

Also premiered were two other works by British composers: the Symphony by Minna Keal; and John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil for cello and orchestra, a radiant expression of Tavener’s faith which, in his own words, attempted to ‘capture some of the almost cosmic power of the Mother of God’. Commissioned by the BBC, it has since become a contemporary classic, having received over a dozen recordings.

Knussen: Flourish with Fireworks
Debussy: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Keal: Symphony, Op. 3 (first concert performance of complete work)
Tavener: The Protecting Veil (world premiere)
Mussorgsky: Intermezzo in modo classico (orchestral version)
Stravinsky: Song of the Nightingale

Steven Isserlis (cello)
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Oliver Knussen (conductor)

(From BBC Proms, 4 September 1989)

2 months left to listen

2 hours, 28 minutes

Music Played

  • Oliver Knussen

    Flourish with fireworks

    Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Oliver Knussen.
  • Claude Debussy

    Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune

    Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Oliver Knussen.
  • Minna Keal

    Symphony

    Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Oliver Knussen.
  • John Tavener

    The Protecting Veil

    Performer: Steven Isserlis. Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Oliver Knussen.
  • Modest Mussorgsky

    Intermezzo symphonique in modo classico

    Music Arranger: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Oliver Knussen.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    The Song of the Nightingale

    Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Oliver Knussen.
  • John Tavener

    The Lamb

    Choir: Tenebrae. Conductor: Nigel Short.
    • Signum.
  • Deirdre McKay

    Wild blossom in the time of covid

    Performer: Tamás Kocsis.

Broadcast

  • Tue 21 Jul 2020 19:30

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