The sound of sparklers.

The oft-adopted adage “pressure makes diamonds” stems from massive pressure and ferocious temperatures combining beneath the Earth’s crust to produce precious stones of enduring value from the single element of carbon: chemistry and physics ultimately give way to craftsmanship and art in achieving the final product. Fortunately, composers experience more pleasure than pressure in producing Read More …

Sunk in grandeur.

King Louis XIV of France, the legendary ‘Sun King’ and victim of the awful play on words in the title of this blog, was born in 1638; he ascended to the throne in 1643, four months before his fifth birthday, and died in 1715. He held court in various locations before moving his centre of Read More …

Sounds Interesting: Found in translation.

This podcast from the Sounds Interesting series examines how a musical composition can be pampered by alternative wardrobes, when an original is dressed in different presentations of style and instrumentation while retaining its core character.         Links to the music featured in this podcast: Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Read More …

Ukraine scores.

In 1980, I sat in the Kyiv Opera House enjoying a performance of Verdi’s Il trovatore as one of a handful of British music teachers permitted entry into the USSR under an educational exchange scheme. I understand that the building now no longer exists, and that it didn’t die of natural causes. During that same Read More …

April associates.

Living in the northern hemisphere, we’re at that bubbly time of year when I can look out of the window and gorge my eyes on the colourful spectrum of flowers that the month of April brings. For this blog, then, I’ve put together an equally colourful collection of easy-listening pieces of music with April associations, Read More …

Podcast: The Kernis Kaleidoscope

Raymond Bisha introduces us to the eclectic and exuberant imagination of the American composer Aaron Jay Kernis, whose works are inhabited by a host of influences — musical, historical and personal. This disc of three of his diverse compositions features deliciously titled works in delectable performances. (This podcast was first published on 4 April 2015) Read More …

George Crumb (1929–2022)

The American composer George Crumb died on 6 February, aged 92. This edition of the Naxos Blog presents a selection of his works that, collectively, were allusive in style and drew on a wide range of inventive sound sources. Crumb’s haunting scores established him as one of the major representatives of the musical avant-garde in Read More …

Podcast: Bolcom, Byron, Lorca – rich colours, dramatic swings

Raymond Bisha’s podcast focuses on two works by William Bolcom recorded for the Naxos American Classics Series. The emotional spectrum of his Canciones de Lorca and Prometheus is reflected in colourful orchestrations and a mix of musical styles that swing between intense drama and surreal humour. (This podcast was first published on 20 November 2015)   Read More …

Fairy tails

Definitions of the word ‘fairy’ as perceived down the ages are wide-ranging, with notions of diminutive enchantresses contrasting with images of grotesque goblins. How have composers painted the former into humanly-generated sound? Let’s find out. All the audio selections in this week’s blog will feature at least the tail-end of the work, if only to Read More …