Podcast: Suite sounds. Strauss rescored.

The Buffalo Philharmonic’s latest release showcases two suites of music by Richard Strauss: the first, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, one of the composer’s favourite scores and an absolute jewel of incidental music; the second, a new symphonic orchestral suite of his opulent opera, Ariadne auf Naxos. Conductor JoAnn Falletta discusses both the music and the context Read More …

A bridge to nowhere, except…

The rainbow. A beautiful natural phenomenon with its terminus of an illusionary pot of gold. A bridge to nowhere. Except in the imagination, that is. Which got me wondering how composers have tackled the tricky task of recreating the concept of a rainbow in sound, approaching the subject variously via mythology, folklore, fantasy and religion. Read More …

Podcast: Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé. Pastoral perfection.

Shabbily treated at its première by Sergei Diaghilev, who commissioned the work for his dance company Ballets Russes, Daphnis et Chloé went on to be hailed by ensuing generations as Ravel’s masterpiece; by Ravel himself as “a vast musical fresco”; and by general opinion as the epitome of impressionism in music. Raymond Bisha delves into Read More …

From Mandalay to Tinseltown. An excursion with Rudyard Kipling.

Were you among the traditionalists who tuned in to the UK’s annual televised Royal Christmas address, broadcast on Christmas Day? It’s currently delivered by Queen Elizabeth II, who was just a 6-year old when the first such royal broadcast was made by her grandfather, King George V, in 1932. He opened this enduring tradition with Read More …

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 …