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A Sea Symphony

BBC Symphony Orchestra/Brabbins

Elizabeth Llewellyn soprano

Two scores explore the elements of Earth and Water: Birtwistle’s mid-1980s masterpiece and a great symphonic first, Vaughan Williams’s A Sea Symphony.

Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s large-scale orchestral work from 1986 explores the element of Earth with a primordial power and colossal ambition: it’s one of his greatest scores and impresses with its strength and ambition 30 years on.

Martyn Brabbins, a master of music like this, then turns his attention to the element of Water – Ralph Vaughan Williams’s choral A Sea Symphony, one of the most confident first symphonies ever, first heard in 1910, with its two singers lifting the poetry of Walt Whitman into song. Two superb singers – Elizabeth Llewellyn and Marcus Farnsworth – and the BBC Symphony Chorus join the BBC Symphony Orchestra for a programme that exults in the power of nature.


Barbican Hall