BBC Philharmonic: Discovering Vaughan WilliamsWednesday 15 January 7:30pm Classical Music
John Wilson conductor
Stephen Johnson presenter
Vaughan Williams In the Fen Country
Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 6
This illustrated introduction to Vaughan Williams’ music reveals two sharply contrasting sides of his music. In the Fen Country, one of his earliest works, displays his fascination with folk song, its evocation of East Anglia tinged with echoes of Delius. It’s a far cry from the ferocity that the Sixth Symphony unleashed in 1948. Although the composer was quick to dismiss speculation that it was a reflection on the years of conflict that preceded it, and the nuclear threat that they initiated, there’s no denying the tension in this post-war masterpiece, whose opening movement rampages across an unforgiving landscape. The opening rampages across an unforgiving landscape. The sense of threat is at its highest in the ominous slow movement before a demonic scherzo leads into a desolate Epilogue. Vaughan Williams, quoting Prospero’s lines from The Tempest – “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep” – raises as many questions as it answers. John Wilson, a brilliant conductor of English music and a devotee of Vaughan Williams is joined by broadcaster Stephen Johnson, who’ll be shedding light on the Sixth Symphony, with live extracts from the BBC Philharmonic, before a complete performance of both pieces.
Venue: Royal Concert Hall
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