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Christopher Gunning is best known for his film and television work, for which he has won four BAFTA awards (for La Vie en rose, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Middlemarch, and Porterhouse Blue) and three Ivor Novello awards (for Rebecca, Under Suspicion, and Firelight).
Born in 1944 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Gunning attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where his tutors included Brian Trowell, James Gibb, Edmund Rubbra and Richard Rodney Bennett. His compositions for the concert hall include four symphonies and a number of concertos.
Here the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performs the premiere recording of Symphonies No. 3 and No. 4, coupled with Concerto for Oboe and String Orchestra. Symphony No. 3 was composed in the aftermath of a turbulent 2005. The work is an expression of this anxiety and the result is a chaotic, colourful musical landscape inspired by the Welsh countryside to which he escaped. While Symphony No. 3 is predominantly turbulent, Symphony No. 4 offers a different view of Gunning’s world. Here the listener is treated to a sense of triumph over adversity, and herein the work is more direct and tonal. Concerto for Oboe and String Orchestra was composed as a Christmas present for his daughter Verity, who here performs her Concerto. Middle Eastern influences are evident in the central movement for it was composed on the day which Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died and reflects Gunning’s sense of sorrow for the region.
The works are conducted by the composer, and thus can be considered definitive performances.
This is the first disc in an on-going series of music by Christopher Gunning.
“The piquant Concerto for oboe and strings, for me, takes the palm. Light on its feet, with some lovely moments for individual players in the first movement, it acquires a more ruminative, melancholy feel in the second where the soloist appears to be lost in her own thoughts. The quasi moto perpetuo finale brings out the youthful and spirited character of its dedicatee. This is a charming composition, winningly played.”
1st June 2009
“This CD gives us his earnest Third Symphony, composed in the shadow of a grave illness, and the more impulsive Fourth, written after he’d made a full recovery. In between these comes his Oboe Concerto, which is beautifully played by his daughter Verity.”