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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Skylights

One of the items on my bucket list that I’d like to tick off before the great light-switch of life gets flicked is to experience the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. The natural display can be seen best while gazing up at dark, cloudless skies in northernmost communities, optimally from late August Read More …

When in Rome…

I live in the city of Canterbury, in the south east of England. It attracts many visitors, principally for its magnificent cathedral and plentiful other reminders of mediaeval life, from its city walls and towers to 14th-century pubs and Dane John, a strategic defence mound cited in the Bayeux tapestry. Step inside the 15th-century Three Read More …

A star is born

The beginning of a new calendar year also marks the Christian Feast of the Epiphany as embodied in the journey of the Three Wise Men seeking the new-born Jesus, led by a star. Star attractions aren’t confined to this context, however; they have provided inspiration for composers on a number of levels, appearing in numerous Read More …

Counter-tenorism.

The human voice, Nature’s ‘instrument’, is a flexible piece of equipment. Men singing in the female sex’s natural register or ‘modal voice’ is usually referred to as a counter-tenor, sometimes a male soprano. They take advantage of the fact that the male voice can slip a gear into a female-like falsetto tone. And not just Read More …