Finzi and Shostakovich

BBC Symphony Orchestra/Davis

A picture of Sir Andrew Davis

Two works from the mid-1950s: Finzi, writing under the shadow of death; Shostakovich perhaps responding to the death of Stalin, and both full of hope.

Two very different works composed within two years of each other. Gerald Finzi’s glorious Cello Concerto, written in 1955 at the request of John Barbirolli, bursts with melody. It was premiered the night before Finzi’s death and was written with death a constant presence, yet it has a powerful sense of defiance about it. Paul Watkins is the soloist. Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony (1953) is one of the composer’s best-loved works, powerful, dramatic and full of hints as to what it might portray (Stalin had died earlier that year). Its intensity never fails to make an impression. Sir Andrew Davis, who headed the BBC SO from 1989 to 2000 makes a welcome return to the orchestra.

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