Podcast: A fascination with sound – Ravel’s spellbinding works for the stage.

Fantasy, fairy tales and Maurice Ravel’s flair for orchestral colour are all to the fore in this new release of two examples of the composer’s music for the stage—the scores for his opera L’Enfant et les sortilèges and his ballet Ma mère l’Oye. This highly imaginative music, projected through a childlike lens, is instantly attractive Read More …

Podcast: 20th-century harpsichord music. An irresistible revival.

It was the great virtuoso Wanda Landowska who spearheaded a revival of interest in the dormant harpsichord at the turn of the 20th century. Working closely with Pleyel of Paris, the instrument manufacturer, she helped develop and promote a sturdier and more sonorous instrument than was hitherto the case. Composers of the time weren’t slow Read More …

Podcast: From agony to ecstasy. Orchestral works by Christopher Rouse.

Two disparate experiences in sound occupy this month’s new CD of works by American composer Christopher Rouse. From the schizophrenic to the sublime, ‘Seeing’ and ‘Kabir Padavali’ are scored respectively for piano soloist and soprano soloist, plus orchestra. Ranging from notions of insanity to the exquisite beauty of 15th-century Indian poetry, Rouse explores the striking Read More …

Podcast: Singing Bernstein’s praise

Raymond Bisha delves into the stunning new Naxos recording of three choral works by Leonard Bernstein. The performances are conducted by Marin Alsop, a protégé of the composer and one of today’s leading interpreters of his work. A fervent spirituality permeates The Lark, the Missa Brevis (the last choral work to be completed by Bernstein) Read More …

Podcast: Gordon Chin – a graphic account of his Cello Concerto No 1 and Symphony No 3

Dramatic tension is never far from the surface in Gordon Chin’s music, exemplified by this new recording of two of his formidable orchestral works. Literary inspiration for the Cello Concerto No. 1 came from the pens of Shakespeare, Pascal and Samuel Johnson, while the disturbed history of Chin’s native Taiwan formed the bedrock of his Third Symphony. Read More …

Podcast: Jean Sibelius – a journey beyond the symphonies

Raymond Bisha dips into the latest Naxos recording of works by Jean Sibelius that have been obscured by the popularity of his symphonies and the violin concerto, including many pieces he wrote to complement stage works. Although these might be termed incidental and occasional, they belie such labels by constituting an extraordinary treasure house of Read More …

Podcast: The Mannheim school legacy – The symphonies of F.I. Beck

Franz Ignaz Beck (1734–1809) was a member of the Mannheim school of composers, based at the court of Mannheim in the mid-18th century. The Mannheim orchestra was one of the largest and finest in Europe, and the Mannheim school’s spearheading of developments in orchestral style, technique and expression influenced symphonic composers during the rest of the Read More …

Podcast: Liszt’s musical makeovers

From composer to transcriber to performer—less instantaneous than modern transmissions, but it’s how many works first came to be known by music lovers before the dawn of the age of technology. Around half of Liszt’s 800 compositions were transcriptions of other composers’ works. In this week’s podcast Raymond Bisha introduces pianist Sergio Gallo breezing through virtuoso transcriptions by Read More …

Podcast: The latest from the Canadian Classics series

Canada’s Gryphon Trio was established in 1993 and its founding members remain the same to this day. Indefatigable as performers, teachers and administrators at institutions around Canada, the trio has commissioned over 75 new works since its inception. Raymond Bisha explores their latest recording of works by four distinguished Canadian composers: Brian Current, Andrew Staniland, Read More …

Podcast: Toward a Season of Peace

Contemporary American composer Richard Danielpour calls them ‘siblings’: two discrete yet connected works that ponder the current endless cycle of brutalization and despair in the Middle East. Raymond Bisha introduces ‘Darkness in the Ancient Valley’ and ‘Toward a Season of Peace’, perfectly channeled subject areas for a composer who describes himself as “a 21st-century American Read More …