BBC Philharmonic: Schuller | Ives | Gershwin | George Walker | Antheil at The Bridgewater HallWill Fulford-Jones
An inspired and fascinating programme, this, as the BBC Philharmonic crosses the Atlantic to spotlight the eclectic and unpredictable brilliance of American classical music in the 20th century. Indeed, ‘eclectic and unpredictable’ is a pretty accurate description of the first work on the programme. In the 1950s, New York composer-author-musician Gunther Schuller coined the term ‘third stream’ to describe a new style of music that used both classical and jazz as its foundations, and his Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee is a compelling example of the genre. Schuller’s inspirations for Seven Studies have echoes elsewhere in the concert: jazz was also a guiding force behind George Gershwin’s glorious Rhapsody in Blue, while maverick composer George Antheil also took his cues from a painter – French romantic Eugène Delacroix – when writing his theatrical Sixth Symphony. Charles Ives, arguably the greatest of all American composers, is represented here by the atmospheric, impressionistic Central Park in the Dark, while the fifth work on the programme is a long-overdue UK premiere. In 1996, George Walker became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music, and Joshua Ellicott joins the orchestra for the first British performance of Lilacs, the work that won the award.
John Storgårds | Conductor
Peter Donohoe | Piano
Joshua Ellicott | Tenor