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 …

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 …

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 …

Heard but not seen. An organist’s box of tricks.

Our January 25 blog featured a brief mix of the history and repertoire of the organ. It highlighted the loud, grandiose and often clichéd sound of which the instrument is capable, one which has served horror film scores and The Phantom of the Opera well. The blog’s reference to early organs in China might also Read More …

Long live the King (of instruments!)

Organ recitals aren’t the most user-friendly events for getting familiar with repertoire. The instrument is rooted to where it was born, usually a church, where the performer is rarely in the sight-line and the seating is on the Spartan side. So, I thought a blog on introducing organ music to newcomers to the instrument might Read More …