Podcast: The musical alchemy of Manuel de Falla

Manuel de Falla is renowned as the greatest Spanish composer of the early 20th century, whose genius rested in part on his ability to meld diverse stylistic, folk or literary influences into distinctive new musical languages, forging masterworks that would ultimately become cultural emblems of his homeland. Raymond Bisha presents a new release of a Read More …

Podcast: From soundtrack to centre stage. Björk’s Vespertine

The Icelandic singer/composer Björk released her concept album Vespertine in 2001. Raymond Bisha introduces a new audio recording of an opera that was born of that release. The inherent theatricality of Björk’s original was the inspiration for an expert creative team to effect the transition from studio to stage, from sound tracks to symphonic support. Read More …

Mix of the month

Naxos releases a significant number of new recordings each month that represent a spectrum of styles, historical periods and instrumental and vocal combinations. We’re presenting a quick sampler of the releases for this month, April 2019, which we’ll present in the order of their date of composition so you can get a feel for the Read More …

Podcast: Tangos for Yvar

Yvar-Emilian Mikhashoff (1941–1993) was an American pianist who collaborated with the publishing house Quadrivium Press to commission composers from all over the world to write piano pieces based on the tango dance form. An intriguing selection of those 100-plus commissions are performed on this Grand Piano release by Hanna Shybayeva, the works’ eclecticism reflected in Read More …

Podcast: Berlioz and the Shakespeare effect

Berlioz left us a number of Shakespeare-inspired works, chief among them his masterpiece Roméo et Juliette. The work took a decade to complete and is cast in an innovative form, a kind of ‘super-symphony’ that incorporates elements of symphony, opera and oratorio. Raymond Bisha introduces this new recording by Leonard Slatkin and the Orchestre National Read More …

Podcast: Compare and contrast. 2 ballet scores by Aaron Copland.

Raymond Bisha presents a pair of vividly contrasting ballet scores by Aaron Copland, superbly performed by Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Grohg immediately suggested itself as the basis for a ballet after Copland attended a screening of Nosferatu, the popular German silent horror film, in 1922; the story-line of a vampire magician able Read More …

Water, water, everywhere

With 22 March marking World Water Day, today’s blog surveys H2O’s musical portraits, starting in a vast expanse and proceeding to a vapid ending. The world’s five oceans are daunting to contemplate – their strength, enormity, depth. I was only a youngster when Sir Francis Chichester became the first person to single-handedly sail around the Read More …

Monteverdi’s madrigals. Formless beauty.

The release this month of Delitiae Musicae’s final volume in their Monteverdi Madrigals series affords the opportunity to do a brief survey of each of the nine books of the composer’s madrigals that were published. Each volume in Delitiae Musicae’s edition is accompanied by authoritative notes by their conductor Marco Longhini, from which the following Read More …

Podcast: Agustín Barrios (1885-1944). The Paraguayan paramount of guitar music.

Raymond Bisha introduces the fifth and final volume in our series of recordings of guitar music by Agustín Barrios, the virtuoso Paraguayan guitarist and composer who was one of the first guitarists to understand the potential of making recordings. Sometimes referred to as ‘the Paganini of the guitar from the jungles of Paraguay’, his music Read More …