Classical Music Live Review: Burrell premiere: Symphonies of Flocks, Herds and Shoals RFH, London
Friday 07 February 1997
I can't pretend that it all made perfect sense in Wednesday's first performance (premieres of truly original works rarely do). The significance of the two short "Episodes" - a kind of open-ended chorale prelude and a vivid evocation of English change ringing - wasn't easy to gauge from one hearing. But all five movement were full of sounds and ideas that demand to be heard again, from the warm, faintly Tippettish chord that sets the work in motion to the brazen chant that rounds off the finale.
Some of the string writing was especially memorable: gritty but also lyrical, the harmonic logic plainly heard and felt rather than drily calculated. Performed with conviction - as it was here by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Michael Schonwandt - Burrell's music is strikingly direct. It stirs the emotions and excites the senses even when the intellect is still trying to find its bearings. She plainly wants the listener to see pictures and search for extra-musical meanings, and on this level, too, it was hard to resist. And if details were sometimes difficult to process, there is still an unmistakable sense of larger movement, with climaxes plainly where they ought to be.
This brave work should be heard again soon: is it too late to find a space for it in the Proms? Symphonies of Flocks, Herds and Shoals made its debut in the company of two heroic Nordic works: Sibelius's Karelia suite and Nielsen's Fourth Symphony, known here as "The Inextinguishable" (perhaps, one day, somebody will come up with a better translation of the Danish). The performance of the Sibelius was competent but somewhat uninvolving, but the Nielsen was alive and compelling from start to finish, with some beautiful solos, not least from the BBC SO's supertimpanist, John Chimes. The outer movements were as rousing and uplifting as they should be, but it was good, too, to hear the delightful little allegretto second movement played with affection - more than a respite before we get back to the real business. Everything in this symphony is real.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Greek debt crisis: Yanis Varoufakis's funniest (and most memorable) quotes
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
Wireless 2015: Nicki Minaj 2 hours late to main stage due to 'travel issues'
Chronixx interview: Reggae sensation on taking the opening spot at Glastonbury and calling Barack Obama a 'waste man'
Game of Thrones season 6: Director Jack Bender hints showrunners 'communicate closely' with George RR Martin
Amy: Mark Ronson praises 'respectful' Amy Winehouse film as it scores the highest ever UK opening for a British documentary
Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture