Tonight’s varied and innovative programme shows the BBC Philharmonic at its forward-thinking best, bringing together significant and challenging 21st-century works with two treasured and popular pieces from the classical canon.
American pianist Jonathan Biss is currently undertaking a fascinating experiment – asking five contemporary composers to write him a new work in response to one of Beethoven’s five piano concertos, then performing this new piece alongside the concerto that inspired it. Completed at the end of 2016, Sally Beamish’s potent and political City Stanzas was written in response to Beethoven’s immaculate First Piano Concerto – and you can trace the connections between the two works when Biss performs them both tonight, guided by Australian conductor Simone Young. Testament, written a few years ago by Young’s fellow Australian Brett Dean, also takes Beethoven as its inspiration, drawing on the composer’s frustration with his growing deafness, but Edward Elgar’s indelible Enigma Variations was inspired by people much closer to home. In 14 short variations averaging barely two minutes apiece, Elgar pays passionate, affecting and occasionally humorous homage to 13 friends and family members, ends with a vivid and revealing self-portrait.
Composer Sally Beamish will be at The Bridgewater Hall before the concert to discuss her City Stanzas and the enduring inspiration of Beethoven. Free to concert ticket holders.
Simone Young – Conductor
Jonathan Biss – Piano