Six Sounds of Shakespeare

March 21 marks the European Day of Early Music. By way of a slightly contorted response to the occasion, I thought we might take a look at William Shakespeare’s influence on composers, not through the contemporary contributions they made to performances of his plays (he lived from 1564 to 1616), but by taking stock of Read More …

Reicha’s rich reach

You have to pity those composers who got air-brushed out of the limelight during their time for no other reason than they were contemporaries of the acknowledged masters, and so had to live under the long shadows of composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and so on. Or, at least, it seems to us that Read More …

Swiss roles

Naxos has travelled far since its founding in 1987 as a budget label with a compelling business model, a chairman of great foresight and a DNA oozing innovation. It has developed into a web of avenues that link art music with music lovers. The Naxos label is now just one of the constituents of the Read More …

I can zing a rainbow

I never tire of listening to the voice of Peggy Lee (1920-2002), the American jazz and popular music singer who was also a songwriter, composer and actress. And with an active career that spanned some six decades, it seems I’m not the only one in her fan club. Her unique vocal timbre was apposite to Read More …

Repetition, repetition, repetition.

It’s difficult to think of examples in the arts where repetition is as acceptable, even essential, as it is in music. Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans is about as far as I get. Repetition is so central to a composer’s tool box that we have a special term for a piece of music that specifically Read More …

Mix of the month, November

The art of the arranger is, perhaps, under-appreciated. There are copious examples of the most famous composers having engaged in making arrangements of both their own and others’ works. Before the era of recordings, making arrangements was the only way you could practically communicate the essence of a composition, especially a symphonic work, to a Read More …

Remember, remember the 8th of November

I started musing on the date of the posting of this blog, 8 November, as its initial focus. But I soon found myself sidetracked by some interesting snippets that popped up en route. At least I ended up gathering some hopefully attractive music samples for you in my wake. If you’re ready to go walkabout Read More …

Mix of the month, October

Although classical music is able to fill a multitude of niches, most would agree that it falls into two broad categories: works that prompt the listener to formulate a picture in their mind of the composer’s initial inspiration (a story, an event from history, a painting, and so on); and pieces that elicit an emotional Read More …

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 …