Best Of British With The BBC Orchestras



Best of British with the BBC Orchestras

A week of programmes bring together some of the best loved British composers and their key works performed by BBC Orchestras and the BBC Singers.

Today we start with a live concert at 2pm, from St. Paul's, Knightsbridge. The BBC Singers with conductor Andrew Griffiths in a programme including Vaughan Williams' Mass in G minor - the first proper English Mass since William Byrd, honouring his debt to the first golden age of English Music in the Sixteenth century.

And to end the programme, one of the quintessential British works of the 20th Century - Elgar's Enigma Variations.

In between, a thread running across the week is Britten's 5 Canticles - intense chamber works with solo voices that Britten wrote between 1947 and 1974. The tenor, fresh from the BBC's New Generation Artists scheme, is Ben Johnson.

Vaughan Williams: Mass in G minor

Plus Tudor/Jacobean motets

BBC Singers,

Andrew Griffiths (conductor).


William Alwyn: Flute Concerto

Emily Beynon (flute),

BBC National Orchestra of Wales,

Bramwell Tovey (conductor).


Britten: Canticle I - My beloved is mine, Op. 40

Ben Johnson (tenor),

James Baillieu (piano).


Elgar: Variations on an original theme ('Enigma'), Op. 36

Grainger: Molly on the shore

BBC Philharmonic,

Juanjo Mena (conductor).



Best of British.

Music from the 1940s and 50s. Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings is the oldest work in today's programme. Written during the Second World War at the request of horn player Dennis Brain, it's steeped in the atmosphere of night and evokes both the calmness of sleep and the terror of the darkest hours.

As with so many other composers, Vaughan Williams's Ninth Symphony is his last. It was premiered in 1958, the same year he died, and although it confused audiences at the time, it has grown in reputation in the intervening years.

And today's programme starts with the third of Britten's Canticles - Still falls the rain, to a text by Edith Sitwell. Alongside tenor - and recent BBC New Generation Artist - Ben Johnson are pianist James Baillieu and horn player Martin Owen.

Presented by Louise Fryer.

Britten: Canticle III - Still falls the rain Op.55

Ben Johnson (tenor),

Martin Owen (horn),

James Baillieu (piano).


Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 9

BBC Philharmonic,

John Wilson (conductor).



Rex Gloriae 4 motets (Op.83)

BBC Singers

Stephen Disley (organ)

Stephen Cleobury (conductor)


Britten: Serenade for tenor, horn and string orchestra, Op. 31

Andrew Kennedy (tenor),

Tim Thorpe (horn),

BBC National Orchestra Of Wales,

Tadaaki Otaka (conductor).

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Best of British - Ancient and Modern.

Today's programme features three Classically inspired pieces: Vaughan Williams's evergreen overture to a play originally by Aristophanes, an orchestral fantasy by Arnold Bax inspired by the nymphs of Classical legend, and Britten's last Canticle - indeed his last work (from 1974): The Death of St. Narcissus, with a text by T.S.Eliot, inspired in turn by Ovid's Metamorphoses.

There are also two well-loved concertos: Finzi's for clarinet, and Elgar's for cello - a composer in his senior years, out of fashion and looking back to a lost world. Plus Walton's First Symphony - young man's music, full of vigour and passion.

Presented by Louise Fryer.

Vaughan Williams: Overture 'The Wasps'

BBC Philharmonic,

John Wilson (conductor).


Finzi: Clarinet Concerto

Michael Collins (clarinet),

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra,

Garry Walker.


Bax: Nympholept

Vernon Handley (conductor).


Britten: Canticle V - The Death of St Narcissus, Op. 89

Ben Johnson (tenor),

Lucy Wakeford (harp).


Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85

Johannes Moser (cello),

Andrew Litton (conductor).


Walton: Symphony no. 1 in B flat minor

Vassily Sinaisky (conductor).