When in Rome…

I live in the city of Canterbury, in the south east of England. It attracts many visitors, principally for its magnificent cathedral and plentiful other reminders of mediaeval life, from its city walls and towers to 14th-century pubs and Dane John, a strategic defence mound cited in the Bayeux tapestry. Step inside the 15th-century Three Read More …

Podcast: A fascination with sound – Ravel’s spellbinding works for the stage.

Fantasy, fairy tales and Maurice Ravel’s flair for orchestral colour are all to the fore in this album featuring two examples of the composer’s music for the stage — the scores for his opera L’Enfant et les sortilèges and his ballet Ma mère l’Oye. This highly imaginative music, projected through a childlike lens, is instantly Read More …

A star is born

The beginning of a new calendar year also marks the Christian Feast of the Epiphany as embodied in the journey of the Three Wise Men seeking the new-born Jesus, led by a star. Star attractions aren’t confined to this context, however; they have provided inspiration for composers on a number of levels, appearing in numerous Read More …

Sounds Interesting: Oxymoron for Orchestra

This podcast from the Naxos Sounds Interesting series focuses on a selection of concertos written not for household-name soloists, but for the collective virtuosity of an orchestra’s serried ranks.           Links to the music featured in this podcast: Bartók, Concerto for Orchestra (8.571201) Malipiero, Concerto for Orchestra (8.573291) Joan Tower, Concerto Read More …

Podcast: Weinberg’s comprehensive keyboard catalogue

In this week’s podcast, Raymond Bisha introduces the 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 …

Counter-tenorism.

The human voice, Nature’s ‘instrument’, is a flexible piece of equipment. Men singing in the female sex’s natural register or ‘modal voice’ is usually referred to as a counter-tenor, sometimes a male soprano. They take advantage of the fact that the male voice can slip a gear into a female-like falsetto tone. And not just Read More …

December’s in the ayre.

Although city centres and shopping complexes have for some weeks been ringing with the sound of musical Christmas jollies, this blog presents the reverse side of the coin, with a small selection of works that reflect a less traditional side of the month of December. I’m going to start with what is undoubtedly one of Read More …

A Frame of Gnomes

The nearest I’ve ever got to a gnome is by eyeing its dictionary definition: In folklore, one of a species of diminutive beings, usually described as shriveled little old men, that inhabit the interior of the earth and act as guardians of its treasures; troll. The plastic garden gnome subspecies doesn’t get a mention, not Read More …

Podcast: A forgotten treasure. Marin Alsop discusses Hindemith.

This podcast features Marin Alsop in conversation with Raymond Bisha following the release of her first album for Naxos as chief conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. She assumed the post in 2019 and the programme reflects that of her first public appearance in the role. Marin’s advocacy of Hindemith’s music is rooted Read More …