The BBC Symphony Orchestra has played a central role at the heart of British musical life since its inception in 1930, and as the flagship orchestra of the BBC provides the backbone of the BBC Proms with at least a dozen concerts each year, including the First and Last Nights. Strongly committed to twentieth-century and contemporary music, it has given the premiere of more than 1,000 works by composers such as Bartók, Britten, Hindemith, Holst, Stravinsky and Shostakovich, and more recently has premiered BBC commissions by Simon Bainbridge, Jonathan Dove, Michael Nyman and Sir John Tavener among others. Its annual season of concerts as Associate Orchestra of the Barbican includes a weekend each January focusing upon a single composer from the twentieth or twenty-first century, most recently James MacMillan, Elliott Carter and Sofia Gubaidulina.
Jiří Bĕlohlávek took up the post of Chief Conductor in July 2006 and David Robertson was appointed Principal Guest Conductor in 2005. The BBC SO works frequently with Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis and Artist-in-Association John Adams. All concerts are broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and a number are televised, giving the BBC Symphony Orchestra the highest broadcast profile of any orchestra in the UK. The BBC SO is committed to innovative education work, with ongoing projects including the BBC SO Family Orchestra and Music Intro, introducing families to concert-going.
The BBC SO has appeared on 34 of NMC’s CDs, including the best-selling recording of Elgar’s Third Symphony.
Jac van Steen (born 1956 in Eindhoven) studied music theory, as well as orchestral and choral conducting, at the Brabants Conservatory of Music.
In the Netherlands, van Steen was conductor and music director of the Nijmegen Bach Choir from 1986 to 1990. From 1989 to 1994, he was the Music Director of Het Nationale Ballet in Amsterdam. Since 1992, he has been on the faculty at the Royal Conservatory of music and dance in The Hague.
From 1997 to 2002, van Steen was Chief Conductor of the Nürnberger Symphoniker. He has also served as Music Director of the Neues Berliner Kammerorchester. From 2002 to 2005, he was Music Director of Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar and Chief Conductor of the Staatskapelle Weimar. van Steen was chief conductor of the Orchester Musikkollegium Winterthur from 2002 to 2008. Since 2005, he has been Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
In 2008, van Steen became Generalmusikdirektor of the Dortmunder Philharmoniker (Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra).
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Two richly dramatic orchestral scores are presented on this disc. In the Dark Time takes its title from TS Eliot's Four Quartets and reflects the turning of the seasons from winter to spring; and Chaconne, inspired by Geoffrey Hill's haunting evocation of the medieval battlefield at Towton, Yorkshi
"Richly orchestrated, with a fine balance between ensemble textures and individual instrumental lines and colours, these vividly captured performances are played with sensitivity and considerable flair by the BBCSO."
The Observer 2001
Recording date: 26-29 May 1998
Recording venue: BBC Studio 1, Maida Vale, London
Engineers: Tryggvi Trygvason, Andrew Hallifax
Producer: Colin Matthews
Editing & mastering: Marian Tryggvason
Cover image: Tanja Softic: "The Memory Folios: Desire", 1999
(P) 2001 NMC Recordings Ltd