Podcast: Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Cello Concerto. A radiant rediscovery.

The composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco moved from Italy to the US during the turmoil of the Second World War. That he should have been immediately befriended by such musical giants as violinist Jascha Heifetz and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky speaks reams about the respect the Italian engendered. His Cello Concerto was commissioned by Piatigorsky, who premiered the Read More …

Viola concertos

It’s been on my conscience for a while now that in a previous blog I was ungracious enough to use a clutch of jokes at the expense of viola players to spice up the narrative. Although such witticisms will no doubt remain in the profession’s repartee for some time yet, I thought I would try Read More …

Podcast: ‘Rach 3’. The Mount Everest of piano concertos.

Raymond Bisha helps turn the pages of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, following the release of Boris Giltburg’s fine performance of the work with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto. Noted for its length and technical difficulty, ‘Rach 3’ (its popular moniker) is reckoned to have more notes than all of Mozart’s Read More …

May. In names and notions.

May’s music. From Theresa May to Frederick May, the dawn of The First of May to the dusk of May Nights—we can view the month through a variety of musical optics which we’ve assembled for this week’s blog. Our earliest example comes from 16th-century England in a ballet by Thomas Morley (1557–1602), but that’s not Read More …

Podcast: Robert Schumann’s works for cello

Although storm clouds were starting to gather over Robert Schumann’s mental health in the years 1849–50, it proved a remarkably fertile period for his musical output, not least as reflected in works featuring the cello. The majority of the pieces on this new release were composed during that period, some with the instrumentation as originally Read More …

27 April. 4 anniversaries.

It’s worth pausing today to remember four notable musicians, the anniversaries of whose deaths all fall on 27 April. Sigismond Thalberg (1812–1871) was a virtuoso pianist considered by some of his contemporaries as a rival to Franz Liszt. Although his death in Italy on 27 April 1871 is clearly documented, details of his birth and Read More …

Podcast: Airs of authority. Concertos for guitar duo.

The combined gifts of the extraordinary Brasil Guitar Duo and two eminent Latin American composers produce a depth of experience and rare musical beauty in two concertos for guitar duo. Cuban composer Leo Brouwer has written ten concertos for guitar, but The Book of Signs is his first for guitar duo. Paulo Bellinati’s Concerto Caboclo Read More …

April playbill

We’re well into April, the name derived from the Latin word aperit which means ‘opening’. Flowers and trees in the northern hemisphere do indeed begin to bloom at this time, but April can be a most confusing, if not frustrating month: drearily wet one day, promisingly warm the next, armed with surprises and contradictions, daisies Read More …

Podcast: A final flourish.

The new Naxos edition of Saint-Saëns’ works for piano and orchestra reaches its final volume with a recording of the composer’s Piano Concertos Nos. 4 and 5, works described by soloist Romain Descharmes as “brilliant music that opens doors to a new world”. The Fourth Concerto showcases virtuosic music written by one of history’s most Read More …

Puerto Rico. Feeling the pulse.

The American composer Roberto Sierra was born in Vega Baja, in north central Puerto Rico, in 1953. I thought of him repeatedly in 2017, when Hurricane Maria was doing her worst as the most destructive natural disaster on record for the island. Sierra is currently the Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Cornell Read More …