Podcast: Shostakovich. 2 popular piano concertos. 1 new transcription.

Time and again, Dmitri Shostakovich deftly managed to dodge the artistic bullet when it came to the expected political conformity of the day. His two piano concertos bear his distinctive musical voice, despite Soviet diktats. Cheeky banter and effervescence characterise the works, offset by a sublime movement in the second concerto that soloist Boris Giltburg Read More …

Exercising choice

So, with the festive season’s excesses not long past and New Year resolutions on our minds, it doesn’t take much of a leap to imagine that many of us will be thinking about taking more exercise. Going to the gym these days seems to demand the heavy beat of pop music as a constant companion. Read More …

Out of the blue

I’ve always thought of musical blues as being a tad unfair on the colour. Although ‘feeling blue’ is a convenient phrase to express a state of feeling emotionally low, there’s a lot more character to the colour to be found in recording catalogues. And in life, too. Living in Bangkok, I’m endlessly fascinated by the Read More …

Podcast: Overtures by Domenico Cimarosa

Domenico Cimarosa was one of the last great exponents of the Neapolitan School of opera. In his time, he was one of the best known and most performed composers pre-Rossini. His operas were widely performed across Europe, and Cimarosa himself was transported to Russia following his appointment to the court of Catherine the Great. Living Read More …

Giving voice

The second Sunday of December each year is designated World Choral Day. I’m not sure when it was established, but I suspect that my primary school teacher may have preempted it: he always reserved one day per year as his Opera Day. That was over 50 years ago. For the whole morning and afternoon, we Read More …

Podcast: Premières from Peru

Raymond Bisha introduces four world première recordings of orchestral music by Celso Garrido-Lecca, one of Peru’s foremost classical composers who celebrates his 90th birthday this year. Like Peruvian culture in general, Garrido-Lecca’s music harmoniously blends European and Amerindian traits, in three classically conceived works that are suffused with the popular music of his homeland. In Read More …

A witty ditty

I think most of us need a bit of a giggle right now, as we squelch through ongoing developments on the world stage, both political and pugilistic. The problem is that, on the face of it, classical music doesn’t seem a likely source of humour, either for giggles, grins or guffaws. Some of you will Read More …

Podcast: James Whitbourn’s Carolae. Ancient roots. Modern makeover.

Raymond Bisha introduces Carolae, a highly attractive Christmas choral work from the pen of GRAMMY®-nominated composer, James Whitbourn. Carolae is a fusion of two great English and American Christmas traditions—the occasions of readings and carols in the chapels at King’s College, Cambridge and Princeton University. Whitbourn’s love of medieval musical language is shown through his Read More …

Carlo Gesualdo. A chromatic scale of life.

It’s now generally accepted by scholars that Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa and Italian composer extraordinaire, was born 450 years ago, in 1566. This week’s blog marks that anniversary. Gesualdo was no ordinary musician. First and foremost he was a prince, a rich and powerful man. He became famous for two reasons: first, the bloody Read More …

Podcast: Grétry’s L’épreuve villageoise: staged comedy, community setting, international reach.

First performed in 1784 in Paris, Grétry’s comic opera L’épreuve villageoise plays out merrily against the insouciant backcloth of a European society about to undergo an irreversible, violent upheaval, just five years later. Grétry was a master of the comic opera genre, and this particular stagework presents a lighthearted feast of flirting in a cosy Read More …