Premieres with problems

This week we take a look at four works that were all premiered on 20 November, the same date as the posting of this blog, respectively in 1889, 1911, 1945 and 1964. Usually an occasion of great positivity, the first performances of these particular compositions all carried some heavy baggage. I refer to Mahler’s First Read More …

Podcast: Simply unmissable

Once in a while you hear such incredibly beautiful music for the first time that you just can’t understand why it has remained under wraps for so long. The Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 by the Italian-born composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco are a case in point. Originally championed in the 1920s and 30s by no less Read More …

Podcast: A perfect pitch. JoAnn Falletta, the Buffalo Philharmonic and Naxos.

This month, JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic celebrate their 21-year association with Naxos as they release their 26th recording on the label — a second album of music by the French composer Florent Schmitt (1870-1958). Peter Hall talks with the orchestra’s music director about that sustained collaboration, reviewing the musical development she has achieved Read More …

Podcast: From elegance to wild abandon. Corelli & Co.

Raymond Bisha introduces a new release of Baroque violin sonatas by 18th-century Italian violinists trained in the tradition of Arcangelo Corelli, spreading his elegant, expressive and virtuosic style on their travels throughout Europe. Giovanni Mossi’s sonatas retain Corelli’s dramatic contrasts and structure, while Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli also incorporates features found in music by Vivaldi. Both Read More …

Dancing to the music of their time.

During the Baroque period (c. 1600-1750) suites of instrumental music with each movement based on the characteristics of a particular dance were popular. The considerations for composers would include: how many beats in a bar? what speed? any notable rhythms? — elements that gave each dance its individual flavour. It’s difficult to imagine more recent Read More …

Podcast: New medium. Same magic. Bach’s cello suites transcribed.

                Raymond Bisha introduces recordings of J. S. Bach’s cello suites, transcribed for guitar and performed by Jeffrey McFadden. Bach himself made arrangements of other composers’ works, as well his own, recycling them for new uses, a practice that continues with these two new volumes. Pablo Casals (1876–1973), Read More …

Podcast: Found in Translation.

Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds (b. 1977) has demonstrated his versatility by writing in a variety of genres, from orchestral and film scores to electronic and multi-media works. Choral music, however, features in much of what he does. The richness of texture and variety of colour in his music for choirs reflects his practice of dividing Read More …

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 …