48 + 72 Preludes and Fugues

Think Preludes and Fugues, and J. S. Bach’s two volumes of the 2-movement sets will for many be the first to spring to mind: with 24 in each volume, his magnificent achievement is known simply as ‘The 48’. Written in 1722 and 1742, Bach’s collection has since inspired many great keyboard players to give searching Read More …

Mix of the month, September

September’s list of new releases again boasts a wide spectrum, from big-hitting orchestral performances to intimate solo recitals. I’ve taken a small-is-beautiful focus for the overview of this month’s line-up, highlighting solo performances, works for chamber ensembles and music for chamber orchestra. And I’m going to start with a large-scale work for chorus and orchestra Read More …

The long reed

For some woodwind instruments, their close cousins sound markedly different. Take the closing bars of Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, for example. When the shrill piccolo slices through the texture, there’s no way you would mistake it for the sound of an homogenous flute. And when the bulky contrabassoon enters in Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, it’s a Read More …

Mix of the month, August

I’m going to select from this month’s crop of new Naxos releases the names of nine composers that might be new to many readers. Introducing audiences to little–known music and its creators is just one of the reasons that Naxos has earned its worldwide reputation, so here goes in putting flesh on the bones of Read More …

Mix of the month, July

Last month’s New on Naxos list of recordings enabled a look at the various roles an orchestra plays in its repertoire. This month, we go small-scale and dip into programmes for both solo keyboard and chamber ensemble; we’ll follow them roughly in chronological order to give a historical and musical perspective. There’s no better place Read More …

Mix of the Month, June

Working with a small selection from this month’s new releases, I’ve forged a theme of the orchestra as a scene-setter, story-teller, support artist, symphonic duettist, and stand-alone protagonist. Many orchestral concerts begin with a warm-up act, a few minutes of attention-grabbing music in which the orchestra flexes its facility for colour and impact. Such concert Read More …

The da Vinci mode.

Leonardo da Vinci died 500 years ago, in 1519. He was arguably the greatest polymath who ever lived, and it’s held that composing was one his talents, though none of his purported works have survived. To ’picture’ what might have been on that score, today we visit the lives and works of five European composers Read More …

Mix of the Month, May

The New on Naxos monthly releases always comprise an eclectic body of works, with something old challenged by something new, and an occasional knockout discovery for good measure. For this month’s survey, however, I’m going to limit the overview to works written during the last century. So, out go works by Scarlatti, Beethoven, Liszt, Dvořák, Read More …

Bread

I was sitting in a hotel bar the other day when my eye fell on the following sage statement displayed above the bartender’s head: Every loaf of bread is a tragic story of grains that could have become beer. Which got me wondering if the staple could have become music. I found that it had Read More …