Podcast: Hallmarks of Hungary. Kodály’s orchestral works.

Conductor JoAnn Falletta discusses the Buffalo Philharmonic’s latest recording of Hungarian music with broadcaster Peter Hall. Zoltán Kodály wrote major orchestral scores that were deeply enriched by his researches into Hungarian folk music, not least the heritage of gypsy music. The recording’s programme comprises Dances of Galánta and Dances of Marosszék, both full of swagger Read More …

Podcast: Percy Grainger’s music for wind band

The Australian born composer and pianist Percy Grainger (1882–1961) maintained a lifelong affection for the wind band as a performance medium for his works. “As a vehicle of deeply emotional expression,” he once said, “it seems to me unrivalled.” Grainger’s initial commitment to the ensemble was hands-on: during a stay in London in 1901 he Read More …

Concerto superbo!

At the time of sitting down to write this edition of Thought for the Week, I decided to consult the Naxos monthly bestsellers  lists and consider writing a retrospective about our 2017 market leaders. While reviewing the January-October rankings, two things stood out. First, in no fewer than three of those months, the bestselling release Read More …

Rooted in Christmas

While the more commercial aspects of Christmas move in tandem with market sentiment, some elements of the season’s celebrations happily remain more constant. Christmas cards (dating from the 1840s), Advent calendars (the first examples appeared around the same time) and attractively wrapped presents (a reminder of the Three Wise Men’s gifts of gold, frankincense and Read More …

Podcast: Sounding singular. Onutė Narbutaitė’s orchestral works.

Onutė Narbutaitė came of age as a composer in the 1980s in Soviet-occupied Lithuania where, along with other artists, she strove to maintain a cultural environment of silent resistance behind a stifling iron curtain. This artistic, political stance was to produce haunting, mesmerising music crowned by Narbutaitė’s unique stamp of a truly arresting listening experience. Read More …

A point in time: December 8

An article in The Independent caught my eye a couple of months ago; maybe yours, too. A ghostly, unfinished, non-miniature portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots had been discovered layered beneath a later painting. The article about this colourfully tragic monarch gave a detailed account of both the queen and her unfinished likeness. I then Read More …

Podcast: Imposing imagery: Saint-Saëns’ symphonic poems.

Camille Saint-Saëns’ life stretched from 1835 to 1921, book-ended by Mendelssohn and Stravinsky, a witness to global conflict, and underscored by a unerring belief in the importance of melody and form, possibly out of fashion, but in the vanguard of impeccable craftsmanship. The composer’s symphonic poems are dizzying in their orchestral colour and imagery. Raymond Read More …

Forging a Ring. From junk boats to anvils.

November sees the release of Siegfried, part of the ongoing Naxos recording of Wagner’s complete Ring cycle. For this month’s blogs, we go behind the scenes of the finished product to meet some of the orchestral players involved in the project. We asked Natalie Lewis, a former member of the orchestra, to strike up the Read More …

Podcast: Lalo Schifrin. An immense talent. A wide reach.

Born in Argentina in 1932, Lalo Schifrin journeyed from his early classical training to study with Messiaen in Paris, before transforming into a jazz pianist, composer and arranger whose services were sought after by no less a luminary than Dizzy Gillespie. The composer of more than a hundred scores for film and television, in addition Read More …

Forging a Ring

November sees the release of Siegfried, part of the ongoing Naxos recording of Wagner’s complete Ring cycle. For this month’s blogs, we go behind the scenes of the finished product to meet some of the orchestral players involved in the project. We asked Natalie Lewis, a former member of the orchestra, to strike up the Read More …