A blazing pair of orchestral showpieces: Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony, which finds triumph beyond tragedy, and the first UK performance of Unsuk Chin’s Alaraph, inspired by “heartbeat stars” and the traditional music of Korea.

Conductor Roderick Cox makes his Aldeburgh Festival debut and the returning Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra performs this powerful Saturday afternoon programme.

Unsuk Chin:
Alaraph “Ritus des Herzschlags” (first UK performance) (13’)
Symphony No.10 in E minor, Op.93 (55’)

Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra
Roderick Cox conductor

Main image: Roderick Cox © Dennis Weber

Featured composer Unsuk Chin writes, “Two images were especially important when composing this score: firstly, I was drawn to the concept of the so-called ‘heartbeat stars’, with their regular pulsation. This is also something the title refers to: 'Alaraph' is one of the so-called ‘heartbeat stars’ … The second crucial image depicted certain aspects of Korean traditional music, both the 'static' courtly ritual music and the lively folk music, alluded to distantly in the work's gestures and structure in a compressed and highly stylized manner". A large percussion section, full of rhythmic vitality and momentum, is central to the work.

Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony has been described as a combination of tragedy, despair, terror, and violence followed by two minutes of triumph. It expresses the years spent under the oppression of Stalin during which many of the composer’s friends and colleagues disappeared, never to return... Those final two minutes, when the shadows at last disappear, have been described as “a resolute assertion of the individual’s triumph over a soulless, dehumanising regime”. Truly a piece for our times.

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