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 …

Amplified by the power of zero.

Mozart is reckoned to have posited that silence, paradoxically, is the most powerful element in music. And I once read that, while there’s one particular zone of your brain that is stimulated when an object starts to produce a sound, it’s a different part that reacts when a clock, for example, ceases its tick-tock and Read More …

Couperin @ 350

We shouldn’t ring out the year without noting that 2018 marked the 350th anniversary of the birth of the French Baroque composer, François Couperin (1668-1733). He was known as le grand to distinguish him from an uncle of the same name, and emerged as the most accomplished member of a large family of musicians, officially Read More …

Stocking fillers

The Greatest Story Ever Told, George Stevens’ epic film depicting the life of Christ, received mixed reviews. It continued to do so more than forty years after its release, the Guardian opining on Christmas Day 2009 that ” …  it suffers in the retelling. With such inherently dramatic source material, George Stevens’s cameo-packed 1965 dramatisation Read More …