Symphonies of Time and Tide was written to be performed during the composer’s 70th birthday year and is dedicated to members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and its remarkable chief conductor, Vasily Petrenko. Despite the title, it is a single-movement work, conceived as a whole, with a somewhat traditional symphonic shape underpinning the seven sections. Listeners should have little difficulty in identifying, in particular, a light and jazzy section (III), a ‘slow movement’ (IV and V) and a ‘finale’ (VI) and ‘coda’ (VII).
“The RLPO and its eternally suave conductor, Vasily Petrenko, had challenges of their own to surmount after the interval, in the shape of Stephen Pratt’s new Symphonies of Time and Tide. Pratt, a pillar of Liverpool’s classical-music scene for decades, turned 70 last year and this piece consciously reflects on that.
Indeed its seven sections — ranging from jazzy and relatively upbeat middle ones to an opening that is nascent with possibility and an ending suffused with foreboding — could well reflect the seven ages of man. It’s not a piece that shocks and awes, but it is beautifully orchestrated (with expressive solos for oboe and trumpet in particular) and — the composer hinted — intriguingly coded with private references.”