Podcast: Paired to perfection. Tianwa Yang plays Prokofiev’s violin concertos.

Violinist Tianwa Yang marks her fifteenth year as one of Naxos’ leading artists with a new album featuring Prokofiev’s two violin concertos. The works’ stylistic contrasts reflect the fact that they were written some twenty years apart, but they receive the same scrupulous attention to technical and musical details that hallmark every one of Tianwa’s Read More …

Earworms for bookworms.

I recently registered with my local library and duly received a plastic card that gives me borrowing rights. Covering the front of the card is a quotation: “The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of a library.” Albert Einstein I wondered how many ‘books/livres/Bücher’ I could locate in my own Read More …

Podcast: A centenary special – Sir Malcolm Arnold’s Complete Symphonies and Dances

An introduction to the Symphonies and Dances of composer Malcolm Arnold featuring conductor Andrew Penny who recorded all these works for Naxos.  Arnold’s orchestral works are a study in contrasts, from his optimistic and tuneful dance suites to his deeply personal symphonies. Join Raymond Bisha and Andrew Penny in this podcast as they chat about Read More …

Podcast: Mapping a musical monument. Giltburg’s Beethoven 32.

Raymond Bisha presents an overview of Boris Giltburg’s project to learn and record all of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas, which are now released in a 9-CD box set edition following their inception as critically acclaimed digital releases. The recordings reflect only one facet of Giltburg’s gem of an undertaking, in that performances were also filmed Read More …

Gershwin whingers.

I’ve always found it intriguing how a quality composition is seemingly indestructible when it’s pressed into new clothes by skilled arrangers. (Whingers, by the way, is simply an anagram of Gershwin to reflect that notion). My first taste of the industry as a youngster was on hearing the Swingle Singers elevate J. S. Bach’s instrumental Read More …

Podcast: Versatilité sans frontières. Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint–Georges (1745–1799).

Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, was a brilliant swordsman, athlete, violin virtuoso and gifted composer, with a claim to being the most talented figure in an age of remarkable individuals. He was an early and important exponent of the hybrid symphonie concertante, a genre that draws on both the symphony and concerto traditions. In this Read More …

Day in, day out.

If there’s a man for all seasons, is there a music for all days? The answer seems to be ‘yes’, so off we go. Our wake-up call comes from one of Naxos’ major artists, conductor Marin Alsop, who puts us In a Monday Mood with my first item. It’s by George Bogatko, who describes the Read More …

Podcast: The string quartets of Jurgis Karnavičius (1884–1941).

Raymond Bisha introduces the second volume of string quartets by the Lithuanian composer Jurgis Karnavičius (1884–1941), recorded by the Vilnius String Quartet on the Ondine label. Their first volume comprised the composer’s romantic, folk-music inspired first two quartets. Volume 2 presents the Quartets Nos. 3 and 4, which are more expressive and modern in style. Read More …

High scores.

It might seem improbable that something as solid and stolid as a mountain could be inspirational to composers. A quick flick through the catalogue, however, throws up numerous examples of these towering formations reflected in heights of creativity by composers the world over. I’ve chosen six for this blog: a couple of them you might Read More …