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BBC SO/Saraste

War and Peace

Photo of conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste

Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducts music of inner peace and outer turmoil from composers enduring war, illness, disease – and the 2020 lockdown.

While his friend and colleague Sergei Rachmaninov went to America after the Russian Revolution, Nicolai Medtner came to London. As the Blitz ravaged the city in the early 1940s, the elderly Medtner sought refuge in rural Warwickshire. A beguiling combination of anguished nostalgia for the old Russia and the calming atmosphere of the English countryside colour Medtner’s Third Piano Concerto of 1943. 

In neutral Denmark, Carl Nielsen, looked on in horror as the First World War tore Europe apart. The composer’s Symphony No 4 erupts in violence, forcing two sets of drums to tear into one another from either side of a fissile orchestra. Before that we enter an oasis of calm courtesy of composer Daniel Kidane, whose Be Still is a reflection on a common experience of spring 2020 in which time itself appeared to stand still.

The performance ends at approximately 9.30pm, with a 20-minute interval

Produced by the BBC Symphony Orchestra


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