Cirque des Oreilles

There’s nothing worse for digestion than unshackled youngsters disturbing a restaurant’s oasis of calm. So there I was the other day, taking lunch in a restaurant I hadn’t tried before, appreciating its rather rare quietude, trying to think of a focus for this blog. And then all became clear; both the reason behind the peaceful Read More …

Podcast: International reach. Dvořák’s sacred choral music.

The first performance of the orchestral version of Dvořák’s Mass in D was given at London’s Crystal Palace in 1892. That same year also saw the premiere of his Te Deum in New York, a commission from the founder of the American National Conservatory, Jeanette Thurber, who also instigated the composer’s three-year residency in the Read More …

Wine bars

At the start of my teaching career, way back in the 1970s, I had to drive through deep countryside to reach the school where I worked. One memory from that period recalls passing a farm where, every afternoon, strains of Elgar’s orchestral music wafted over fields of corn from the cowsheds. The farmer was convinced Read More …

Podcast: Fusion and flowerpots. Music by Lou Harrison.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the American composer Lou Harrison, who distinguished himself through his pioneering works in writing for percussion and integrating Western and Eastern idioms. “Everything in the world should be considered a legitimate influence,” he said. In his music, however, the sounds of the largely percussive Javanese Read More …

Podcast: A Bohemian Rhapsody

Reminiscent of the music of Smetana and Dvořák, Vitĕzslav Novák’s works are surprisingly little known outside his native Bohemia. Peter Hall talks with JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, about the latest release in her long list of recordings for Naxos that both surprise and delight with their engaging discoveries. Here they unwrap Read More …

Podcast: Ravel’s Antar. A collaborative creation.

Antar was the subtitle of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Second Symphony (1867–68), so when Ravel was asked in 1910 to write incidental music for a play about the 6th-century Arabic warrior-poet, he turned to the Russian maestro’s piece for inspiration. Ravel’s incidental music, however, needed a narrative cloak to make it suitable for the concert platform. This was Read More …

Podcast: Off stage. On song. Krassimira Stoyanova airs Puccini.

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini’s long list of given names was matched by his extensive output of operas, thirteen in all. These masterpieces for the stage have understandably occluded his remarkable set of songs for soprano and piano (and religious songs with organ accompaniment). All of these are now gathered together for the Read More …

Sleeping beauties

You may have missed it, but March 17 was World Sleep Day. Its slogan: ‘Sleep soundly, nurture life.’ Part of its mission: ‘ …to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders.’ Ernest Hemingway would probably have signed up: ‘I love sleep. My life has a tendency Read More …

Podcast: Saint-Saëns. The piano concertos. A new cycle launches.

Camille Saint-Saëns was arguably the greatest child prodigy ever. His Piano Concerto No. 1, considered the first by a major French composer, was written in 1858. The second, one of his most frequently performed works, followed ten years later. Both concertos are showcased in this latest podcast hosted by Raymond Bisha. The recording is the Read More …

Ad lib.

#MyFreedomDay takes place on March 14. It’s a project conducted in partnership with CNN, during which young people around the world will be holding events to raise awareness of modern slavery. If you thought that human trafficking was neatly tucked away into history’s dark chapter on the African slave trade, then you will have to Read More …