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Composition Date: 2010

Duration: 14'

Orchestration: 2+pic.2+ca.3(Edcl).2+cbsn/



Commissioned by the BBC and first performed at Glasgow City Halls by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Manze, on 4 November 2010.

Programme Note:


for BG

  1. Allegro con spirito

  2. Andante calmo

  3. Allegro giocoso

  4. Andante con moto

The title, Kirschen, refers to Brahms' comment that his new (4th) Symphony sounded 'like sour cherries': he wasn't confident about the piece at first, and felt it was 'unripe'.

The commission and brief came from the BBC: to celebrate one of Brahms' symphonies. But my response is not really an 'homage' - more a bit of fun - using themes from the symphony to make a light-hearted set of four brief movements more influenced by jazz than by the great classics. My love of Brahms is reflected in half-hidden quotes from works that mean a lot to me from my days as a viola player, as well as the more transparent references to his 4th symphony.

My four movements relate to the symphonic movements in different ways. The first uses Brahms’ harmonic progressions, the second is slow and mesmeric, taking a simple fragment from Brahms, and the third is an irreverent romp. In the last movement I returned to Brahms’ original inspiration – the final Ciacona from Bach’s Cantata ‘Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich’.

Kirschen was commissioned by the BBC and first performed in City Hall, Glasgow by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Manze, on November 4th 2010.

Sally Beamish 2010

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