A guide to Tippett

BBC Music Magazine - - Michael Tippett -

Ex­plore his best works Tippett’s first pro­fes­sion­ally per­formed and pub­lished work was his rhyth­mi­cally and poly­phon­i­cally com­plex String Quar­tet No. 1 of 1935 (rev. 1943). Sixty years later the London Sym­phony Or­ches­tra pre­miered The Rose Lake at a 90th birthday con­cert in 1995; it was in­tended to be his fi­nal work, but he then penned Cal­iban’s Song for the Pur­cell ter­cente­nary cel­e­bra­tions that year.

Be­tween these book­ends, his style evolved from the florid writ­ing of the Fan­ta­sia Concertant­e on a Theme of Corelli through the terse opera King Priam to the more lyri­cal, lu­mi­nous later mu­sic.

His works in­clude four pi­ano sonatas, five string quar­tets, four sym­phonies and five operas. His 1951 The Heart’s As­sur­ance is an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to 20th-cen­tury song. His mu­sic – the or­a­to­rio A Child of our Time aside – has some­times baf­fled au­di­ences, yet re­cent years have seen pos­i­tive reap­praisal of his work. The Heath Quar­tet re­cently recorded the com­plete quar­tets to ac­claim, and the BBC Scot­tish Sym­phony last year gave a cy­cle of the sym­phonies, in­clud­ing the with­drawn early Sym­phony in B flat.

Terse Tippett: Rod­er­ick Earle as King Priam, 2014

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