Podcast: Jazz idioms, classical structures. Symphonic works by Nikolai Kapustin (1937–2020).

Significantly influenced by his experience of playing in some of the earliest Soviet jazz bands, Nikolai Kapustin trained as a pianist at the Moscow Conservatory but subsequently devoted himself to composition. His output includes many works for piano, two of which are featured on this new album — the Fourth Piano Concerto and the Concerto Read More …

F sharp major, of all keys!

Western composers uniformly embraced the system of tonality for some two centuries, until it found itself challenged by a radical alternative system called atonality around the year 1900. The more abrasive sounds thrown up by atonality certainly gave the status quo a run for its money, while never actually totally replacing it. Tonality allowed composers Read More …

Podcast: Music of Brazil. The Villa-Lobos violin sonatas.

Raymond Bisha prefaces his latest podcast with this introduction: “Heitor Villa-Lobos, the prolific Brazilian composer of some 2,000 works, conductor, cellist, guitarist and music educationalist, wrote his three violin sonatas between 1912 and 1920. When he wrote the first sonata, he was still a struggling young composer trying to make a name for himself, while Read More …

Podcast: Camille Saint-Saëns. A symphonic collection.

French composer Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) is remembered as someone who could spin melodies as easily as he breathed. Naxos is marking the centenary of his death with a 3-CD box set that comprises all his symphonies and a sequence of atmospheric and dramatic symphonic poems, including Phaéton and the ever-popular Danse macabre. Raymond Bisha presents Read More …

Podcast: The Power of Tower

With multiple GRAMMY nominations and wide critical acclaim to her credit, Joan Tower’s latest album in the Naxos American Classics series demonstrates why she is so often performed, and why she is such a respected person among American composers. Raymond Bisha presents the programme on her new release that comprises four world premiere recordings. Soloists Read More …

Musical discoveries U–Z

We reach the final instalment of our alphabetical collection of composers whose music has been somewhat neglected as the years have rolled by, with this blog casting a spotlight on Galina Ustvolskaya, Francesco Maria Veracini, Peter von Winter, Iannis Xenakis, Isang Yun and Joaquim Zamacóis. Galina Ustvolskaya was born in Petrograd in 1919, educated in Read More …

Podcast: Anne-Louise Brillon de Jouy (1744-1824). Piano sonata premieres.

Anne-Louise Brillon de Jouy ran one of the finest salons in pre-revolution Paris. She was well educated and well connected, with a circle of friends that ran from Luigi Boccherini to Benjamin Franklin. She was also a fine composer. Because of the social norms of the day, however, her role within Parisian culture was restricted, Read More …

Podcast: Liszt’s musical makeovers.

From composer to transcriber to performer — less instantaneous than modern transmissions, but it’s how many works first came to be known by music lovers before the dawn of the age of technology. Around half of Liszt’s 800 compositions were transcriptions of other composers’ works. In this week’s podcast, which was first broadcast in July Read More …

Musical discoveries P–T

Continuing our alphabetical spotlighting of less well known composers and their works, this week’s blog visits Italy, Poland and Guatemala and presents music from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. We start with the first of three Italians — Giovanni Benedetto Platti (pre 1692-1763). Although his presence as a young man is recorded in Venice Read More …