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Shostakovich, Strauss and Ruders

BBC Symphony Orchestra/Søndergård

Photo of BBCSO Sondergard in tuxedo

Orchestral virtuosity from Poul Ruders and solo virtuosity from Shostakovich prepare the way for Richard Strauss’s magnificent tone-poem Also Sprach Zarathustra.

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey may have propelled Strauss’s tone-poem into the stratosphere, but there’s another 35 minutes of glorious orchestral writing to discover once past the shattering evocation of a sunrise. And late-romantic virtuosity is balanced by the witty virtuosity of the programme’s opener, Poul Ruders’ Concerto in Pieces, a BBC commission from 1995 prompted by the tercentenary of Purcell’s death and the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Britten’s Young Person’s Guide (based on a Purcell theme). Ruders writes for the orchestra with astonishing confidence and delight. In between, trumpeter Alan Thomas and the young Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov give us Shostakovich’s sparkling First Piano Concerto from 1933.

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