Monday, 20 January 2020

Acknowledging a debt to Scottish Renaissance composer Robert Carver - James MacMillan's Symphony No. 4

Carver Choirbook Adv.MS.5.1.15, fol.135 recto Acknowledgement is made to the Trustees of the National Library of Scotland
The Carver Choirbook,
only source of Carver's Missa Dum Sacrum Mysterium Acknowledgement is made to the
Trustees of the National Library of Scotland
The Kensington Symphony Orchestra, conductor Russell Keable, returns to the Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall on Thursday 23 January 2020 with a performance which gives us a chance to hear James MacMillan's Symphony No. 4. Written in 2015 to celebrate conductor Donald Runnicles' 60th birthday, the symphony was premiered at the BBC Proms that year with Runnicles conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Unlike the composer's three previous symphonies, his fourth is purely abstract, exploring various elements of ritual in music on one continuous movement lasting around 40 minutes. What perhaps gives the symphony its particular flavour is that MacMillan has chosen to acknowledge his debt to the Scottish Renaissance composer Robert Carver and include parts of Carver's Missa Dum Sacrum Mysterium. Talking about the symphony and his use of Carver's music, MacMillan said ' I love the austerity of his [Carver's] music, but also its complexity. I've incorporated some of his ideas into the structure of the symphony and wound my own music around it'

If you are interested in a compare-and-contrast then the Sixteen have recorded Carver's complete 10-part mass [available from Amazon], whilst Donald Runnicles and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra have recorded MacMillan's Symphony No. 4 [available from Amazon].

The companion work in the concert is Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2, with the UK-based Russian pianist Samson Tsoy.

Full details from the Kensington Symphony Orchestra's website.

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