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James MacMillan's All the Hills and Vales Along

London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda

Ian Bostridge portrait close up

James Macmillan’s affecting memorial to the dead of World War I is paired with Shostakovich’s gut-wrenching Fourth Symphony.

James Macmillan’s new work, commissioned to commemorate 100 years since the Armistice of 1918, remembers the human cost of war. Setting words by Charles Sorley, a poet killed in action in 1915, it addresses rows of soldiers on their way to the front. ‘On, marching men, on / To the gates of death with song  / … Give your gladness to earth’s keeping  / So be glad, when you are sleeping’.

Shostakovich’s Fourth is a work of epic proportions, requiring over 100 musicians. Owing to Soviet censure, the piece went unperformed for almost 30 years after it was completed. That is until, in 1961, it was revealed as a significant milestone in the composer’s output, the work which solidified him as a master symphonist.

Part of For the Fallen: Marking the First World War Centenary

Recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Thursday 8 November 7.30pm

14-18 Now

Barbican Hall