CLASSICAL MUSIC BBC Premieres Royal Festival Hall

The debut of a new orchestral work implies continuing strength both in contemporary music and in those who commission it. With the privatisation of Radio 3 a likely target for any future Tory government, (from which the BBC Orchestras would not be unaffected), it's good to report that in the past three weeks the BBC Symphony Orchestra gave two world premieres and the welcome revival of another recent piece. As vital to our cultural life as the National Gallery, the orchestra merits all the plaudits it can get.

Fifty this year like Radio 3 itself, Colin Matthews topped and tailed two pre-existing works with a brief Intrada and thoughtful choral finale to make Renewal, conducted by Oliver Knussen on 29 September at a Festival Hall celebration of the actual anniversary. In true Third Programme style, the last movement, "Metamorphosis", set apposite words from Ovid on the teachings of Pythagoras: "Nothing in the whole world endures unchanged ... everything is renewed". There was much to admire in this setting, from the background sonority of tolling pedal Cs with their lack of rhetoric to the tactful ending of quiet optimism. Set in its place beside the scherzo Broken Symmetry and Threnody, fashioned from an earlier memorial piece for Toru Takemitsu, it also showed the composer's skill at working on the largest scale. For Matthews, Renewal and his recent Cello Concerto mark three decades of notable achievement. His next move will be all the more intriguing.

Judith Weir's Moon and Stars, slotted into the orchestra's Walton series at the same venue last Wednesday, was shorter and quieter, though turning, like Renewal, to the medium of words for its conclusion. "For all the contrasts of style between these pieces - muscular, brass-dominated discords versus sensuous stellar harmonies - their choice of texts shared a common quest for a transcendental vision minus the trappings of religion. That Weir chose a striking view of nature from the work of Emily Dickinson was very much part of the original commission. Searching for an astronomical image for a piece to be played in the Royal Albert Hall, she found in this favourite poem a suitably awesome idea: that the universe is as large as we can imagine it, with extra bits attached.

Stepping in to replace an indisposed Andrew Davis, Vernon Handley coped splendidly at short notice. For Naresh Sohal's Lila, of which Davis is the dedicatee, Martyn Brabbins took the baton at the Festival Hall on Sunday to conduct an ambitious symphonic poem that explored another universe: the inner world of meditation. A composer of sparing yet always compelling production, Sohal offered a powerful antidote to the putative view of yoga as passive dreaming. Six paragraphs of his Lila, each prefaced by an arresting image of double bass and timpani pulsations, depicted the mental turbulence that this discipline seeks to pacify, before the seventh sent Sarah Leonard to the upper heights of the soprano voice to depict the cosmic union. Like the mind itself, Lila was a boiling cauldron of ideas that had nothing in common with the cliched image of "meditation" music. There were striking roles for saxophone, wind machine and tuned percussion. Play it again, BBC, as soon as possible.

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk