On Radio 3 this week: Shorter and the Queen of Sheba

Just to draw your attention to a couple of highlights on Radio 3’s iPlayer this week.

First up, the colossus of the saxophone world Wayne Shorter leads his quartet in a live session recorded at the Barbican earlier this month. Former Miles Davis sideman, one of the original members of fusion giants Weather Report, and a player who showed there could be life after Coltrane, this is Shorter’s first UK appearance for a number of years.

Also on iPlayer is a rarity, a piece from composer Alec Roth: his Departure of the Queen of Sheba, (1999)  received its first broadcast in a concert with the Orchestra of the Swan in Loughborough last night. Roth has written some fantastic pieces: his Chinese Gardens for tenor and guitar is a miniature gem of immaculate refinement, whilst his choral work Shared Ground displays a rich harmonic language with sumptuous colour, with the occasional hint of Vaughan Williams.

Roth’s companion piece to Handel’s lively depiction of her arrival depicts the famous Queen and King Solomon meeting in the Garden of Earthly delights; Roth includes Handel’s theme in an altered fashion, and the work is scored for the same forces as Handel’s but includes a cor anglais. The emotional atmosphere of Roth’s work is far removed from the buccolic jollity of the Queen’s arrival, and instead is profoundly lachrymaic, with the oboe and cor anglais weaving heart-rending melodic lines in a tender dialogue over an almost minimalist accompanying texture.

The piece beings forty minutes in to the programme, and is preceded by a short interview with the composer.

Don’t miss either.

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