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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Podcast: Terry Riley. A continuing spirit of exploration.

Terry Riley’s breakthrough work, In C, was written in 1964, but it wasn’t until 1991 that he produced his first orchestral piece. Over the years, Riley has come under the influence of a wide range of musicians, including John Cage, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Pandit Pran Nath, the master Indian classical singer. Raymond Bisha Read More …

Podcast: Symphonic music by Claude Baker

The music on this new release of orchestral music by the American composer Claude Baker occupies a wide expressive range, ricocheting between wild brilliance and deep introspection. He translates literary references into a uniquely rich and imaginative sound world, with allusions to music by other composers by turns subtle and explicit. Raymond Bisha introduces Baker’s Read More …

Podcast: Saint-Saëns’ works for cello and orchestra

French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, one of the most extraordinary musical prodigies in the history of western music, was born in 1835 (when Mendelssohn was still in full compositional flow) and died in 1921 (the best part of a decade after Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring had delivered its shock waves). Amid all this change, Saint-Saëns retained Read More …

Podcast: Sister Carrie. The opera of the novel.

Sister Carrie, an opera by American composer Robert Aldridge, was first performed in 2012. Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, the novel on which the opera was based, was written in 1900. It was one of the first American novels about social status which, for women around the turn of the 20th century, depended almost entirely on Read More …

Podcast: Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto

Raymond Bisha introduces Boris Giltburg’s latest album of music by Sergei Rachmaninov that features the Études-tableaux Op. 33 and his ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 2. The latter charts a dramatic course: from the passion, darkness and pain of the first movement, through the dreamy idyll of the second, to the unequivocal victory of the finale. Read More …

Podcast: The voice of Russia. Music by Georgy Sviridov.

Raymond Bisha introduces a new recording of music by the Russian composer Georgy Sviridov (1915–1998); the programme features one of his cantatas, a song cycle, and music for chamber orchestra. Sviridov was a prolific composer (his output encompassed film scores, symphonic suites and several thousand songs) and was fortunate to have Shostakovich as one of Read More …