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 …

Sounds Interesting: In the wrong place at the wrong time.

This podcast from the Naxos Sounds Interesting series spotlights a collection of unfortunate musicians who became hostages of war at the outbreak of the First World War and whose story is as inspiring as the music that sustained them. The setting is Ruhleben, a racecourse in Berlin. The presenter is Richard Kennedy.      

Podcast: Hit and bliss. Dame Evelyn Glennie performs mallet percussion concertos.

Raymond Bisha introduces a new album of 21st-century mallet percussion concertos performed by virtuoso percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong under Jean Thorel. The works by Alexis Alrich and Karl Jenkins put the marimba in the solo spotlight, while Ned Rorem’s 7-movement Mallet Concerto — written in 2003 and 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 …

Podcast: The art and craft of John Adams.

Raymond Bisha introduces a programme of orchestral music by the Pulitzer and Erasmus Prize-winning American composer John Adams. The two works on this new album from the Nashville Symphony under Giancarlo Guerrero demonstrate why Adams is one of today’s most widely performed and recorded composers. Adams describes My Father Knew Charles Ives as “an homage Read More …

Podcast: Bruckner’s Latin motets. Devotions of distinction.

Choral music formed an important part of Anton Bruckner’s output throughout his career, even though the genre was widely underappreciated by a public more inclined to large-scale symphonic and operatic works. Although the big-boned structure of such music also made its presence felt in Church masses and oratorios, there was always a need for smaller Read More …

Podcast: Vítězslav Novák. Orchestral Works Vol. 1

Czech composer Vitězslav Novák (1870-1949), who was one of Dvořák’s composition students, rose to prominence with a series of increasingly ambitious orchestral works that fused elements of folk music, impressionism and late-Romanticism. Raymond Bisha introduces Vol. 1 of his orchestral works performed by Marek Štilec and the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra. The programme pairs the heady 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 …

Podcast: Bernard Herrmann in the round

Raymond Bisha discusses a release of music by the American composer Bernard Herrmann with Joseph Horowitz, co-founder of PostClassical Ensemble, a group dedicated to stepping across normal repertoire boundaries. The album’s programme showcases Herrmann’s talents not only as a composer of film scores, but also as a consummate provider of music for the forgotten genre 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 …