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 …

September Songs

Having grown up a student in the northern hemisphere, September was never a favourite month of mine since it primarily marked the start of a new academic year. This mild dread was exacerbated by all the jolly ‘Back to School’ advertisements, since the experience itself never seemed particularly jolly to me. Knowing that Naxos will Read More …

Leaving a legacy

Have you ever commissioned a new work from a composer? I’ve been through the process a number of times. No work longer than twenty minutes. But when you get the brief of the commission right, which encourages the composer to turn up a bit of magic, it can be one of the more satisfying experiences Read More …

Podcast: A hero’s life. A song of strife.

Raymond Bisha presents a new recording of two works written only three years apart at the very end of the 19th century: Albéric Magnard’s Chant funèbre (Funeral Song) and Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life). The former may have been unduly neglected, but the latter is testament to the enduring popularity of Strauss’ tone Read More …

Women Behaving Badly

I was eleven years old when I paid my first visit to a Madame Tussaud’s waxworks. Lookalike film stars and world leaders held some interest for a youngster, but the much anticipated highlight was a visit to the Chamber of Horrors. The display of instruments of torture had the desired effect on the visitor as Read More …

My hero. Yours, too?

Where would we be without our heroes? Well, classical music would certainly be the poorer without the heroic thread that weaves through the catalogue. Works are branded heroic either by their general aura, the mention of the word in the title, or the name of a specific hero on which a piece is built. We Read More …

Recreation

After a hard day’s work, there’s nothing like going into flop mode, a glass of something in one hand, the other gently rifling through ranks of CDs or scrolling through a digital cache of music, finding the escape hatch from office stress into down time. Pity, then, the poor composer who has been struggling all Read More …

Sounds more effective

A few weeks ago we looked at the capability of instruments to make a variety of changes to their usual timbre. We examined the history of pizzicato and col legno, just a couple of tools in the string department’s box of tricks. String instruments have arguably the greatest range of alternative voices, but they are Read More …