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BBC SO/Wigglesworth

The Other Vaughan Williams

Photo of conductor Ryan Wigglesworth

The composer who brought us gentle, pastoral music like The Lark Ascending processes the aftermath of war, in a concert featuring the modern premiere of a lost work by César Franck.

Something erupted inside Ralph Vaughan Williams one morning in 1931, as he read a review of an outspoken new symphony from Europe. The violence, rage and volcanic temper that the composer subsequently channelled into his Symphony No 4 has been retrospectively analysed as a manifestation of post-traumatic stress – the composer processing his horrific experiences from the First World War as he sensed Europe slipping towards another cataclysmic conflict. 

Ryan Wigglesworth conducts this riveting British symphony, preceded by music from its composer’s Parisian teacher Maurice Ravel, who like his pupil worked as a medic at the front during the 1914–18 conflict. In between comes a brand-new piano concerto by the French composer Tristan Murail and before it, the tantalizing first modern performance of a work by César Franck not heard since 1872. 

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

Produced by the BBC Symphony Orchestra

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