Musical discoveries A–E

This is the start of a 5-part series highlighting the distinctly engaging music of less well-known composers. I’ve selected their names alphabetically, and this edition’s tranche features composers with surnames beginning respectively with the letters A, B, C, D and E. First in the spotlight is the Georgian composer Vaja Azarashvili.  Born in 1936, he Read More …

Easter pegs

Places of Christian worship the world over will be marking the Easter Story at this time, no doubt with many performances of sacred music that vividly portray the central scenes of Jesus’ execution on the cross, his entombment, and his subsequent resurrection. I’ve chosen three pieces of music for this blog that reflect those three Read More …

All the fun of the fanfare.

The Naxos Glossary of Musical Terms has this definition of the word ‘fanfare’: A fanfare is a flourish of trumpets or other similar instruments, used for military or ceremonial purposes, or music that conveys this impression. The Naxos catalogue tells a slightly different story, in that you’ll find a number of compositions with the word Read More …

Magic moments.

Do you recall hearing a particularly affecting piece of music for the first time, maybe as a younger newcomer to the world of classical music? I certainly do, and at the risk of peddling in self-indulgence I thought I would share a few of those magic moments in this edition of the Naxos blog. We’re Read More …

A centenary’s outs and ins [2]

Picking up from our last blog that featured musicians who died a century ago, in the year 1921, we consider a selection of singers, instrumentalists and composers who were born in that year. My first pick is the virtuoso British horn player Dennis Brain (1921-1957), who was tragically killed in a car accident when he Read More …

A centenary’s outs and ins

Following the 2020 global Beethoven birthday bash, I’m going to run the risk of anniversary fatigue by dwelling on what comes in its wake: 2021 and a collection of milestones marking the centenaries of either the births or deaths of a number of composers and artists. In true Naxos style, the survey will include both Read More …

Cherry Christmas

One Christmas carol that has always been on my list of favourites is the Cherry Tree Carol. Apart from the attractive melody, the words give a glimpse of the real human relationship between Joseph and Mary, the former harbouring a touch of tetchiness over the miracle of her immaculate conception. As the couple make their Read More …

Scene-shifting

It will soon be the season of Christmas carol services, managed somehow or other this year by technical wizardry in defiance of Covid-19. It set me thinking not only about the traditional carols I grew up with, but also the plentiful variety of alternative music that has been written over the centuries to mark the Read More …

Premieres with problems

This week we take a look at four works that were all premiered on 20 November, the same date as the posting of this blog, respectively in 1889, 1911, 1945 and 1964. Usually an occasion of great positivity, the first performances of these particular compositions all carried some heavy baggage. I refer to Mahler’s First Read More …