Podcast: Music by Hans Rott (1858-1884). A legacy of powerful potential.

No lover of classical music from the Romantic period should miss an opportunity to become acquainted with the music of Hans Rott, a little known composer (even in his day), but one who made a significant impact before his untimely death at the age of 25. Improbable though it may seem, it’s likely that not Read More …

Hearing it in black and white.

A bifocal blog this week that steers from a lust for colour in music to a quick dig in the catalogue for works presented on a monochrome platform, either black or white. My first pick is Peter Maxwell Davies’ Black Pentecost, the catalyst for which was provided by the threat of uranium mining in the Read More …

Podcast: Peter Breiner’s Slovak Dances, Naughty and Sad

Peter Breiner is one of the world’s most performed composer/arranger/conductors with record sales in the millions and over 200 CD titles to his credit. Slovak Dances, Naughty and Sad, the latest of his many releases for Naxos, consolidates his outstanding reputation as an arranger. It features Breiner’s typically colourful orchestrations that include a wide variety Read More …

Podcast: Music for wind band by Kenneth Fuchs.

Considering the size of the wind band industry in the United States, the occasion of an established classical composer writing for the medium comes as a rare but highly welcome treat. Raymond Bisha introduces a programme of wind band music by Kenneth Fuchs, during which the American composer describes the progression of his experience and Read More …

Podcast: Kastalsky’s Requiem for Fallen Brothers receives a poignant Resurrection.

Alexander Kastalsky’s Requiem for Fallen Brothers was written between 1914 and 1917, during World War I, a conflict that killed more than 20 million people and injured even more. Kastalsky achieved poignancy in his memorial by using melodies and texts from many of the countries involved in the war — Russia, Serbia, Italy, England, Japan, Read More …

Closing comments. Another quick quiz.

Here are the final bars of 15 well-known works. Can you name the composer and the title of the work? Scroll down the page to check your answers. Question 1   Question 2   Question 3   Question 4   Question 5   Question 6   Question 7   Question 8   Question 9   Read More …

Podcast: Weinberg’s comprehensive keyboard catalogue.

In this week’s podcast, Raymond Bisha introduces a 4-CD collection of the complete piano works of Mieczysław Weinberg — from teenage mazurkas written in his native Poland through to his last works for the instrument composed in Moscow. En route, Tashkent, Shostakovich and the Head of the post-Stalin KGB all play a part in the Read More …

First impressions. A quick quiz.

Here are the openings of 20 well-known works, or of movements within those works. Can you name the composer and the title of the work? Scroll down the page to check your answers. Question 1   Question 2   Question 3   Question 4   Question 5   Question 6   Question 7   Question Read More …

A podium for panache. Concertos for Orchestra.

In some respects you might say that all orchestral works – symphonies, overtures, tone poems — are showcases of collective talent displaying expertise in coordination, balance and deft execution of the notes. But the notion of a concerto for orchestra implies that the composer is shining an even more intense spotlight on rank-and-file players or Read More …

Podcast: Ludwig van Beethoven. Works for chamber ensemble.

Raymond Bisha introduces a selection from the rich and varied catalogue of chamber works that Beethoven wrote throughout his life. It includes the ‘Archduke’ piano trio, examples of his violin and cello sonatas, and extracts from both his Octet for Wind Instruments and the Septet in E flat major, Op. 20, a work so popular Read More …