George Benjamin’s extraordinary orchestral Palimpsests were at the heart of a BBC Prom, given by Ensemble Modern Orchestra under his baton on 23 July 2004, in London’s Royal Albert Hall.
The concert began with the world premiere of a new orchestration by Benjamin – of 5-minute 18th century organ work, Récit de tierce en taille, by Nicolas de Grigny (1671-1703). Benjamin has scored the work for identical forces to Palimpsests, with the addition of a cor anglais. Messiaen’s epic Des canyons aux étoiles completed the concert.
The entire concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, on BBC 4 TV and via a webcast from the BBC Radio 3 website.
The premiere recording of Palimpsests has been released on a new Ensemble Modern CD (Nimbus Records), together with live performances of Sudden Time and At First Light (all conducted by Benjamin). Another premiere recording, that of the ensemble work Olicantus (with Oliver Knussen conducting), completes this major new disc.
Faber Music has newly-published the score of Palimpsests to coincide with both these important events. It will be available for online purchase from this site from 5 August.