Podcast: The Lully effect. Going to the heart of the French Baroque orchestra.

Raymond Bisha introduces a new release of music by three Baroque titans: Lully, Telemann and Rameau. The latter two were hugely influenced by the music of Lully, who was powerfully positioned as the chief musician of King Louis XIV of France. Lully left a rich legacy of dramatic music scored for orchestra. It left an Read More …

Alma. Her life, loves, lieder.

Alma Margaretha Maria Schindler was born on the date of this post, 31 August, in the year 1879. On her death in 1964, aged 85, she had become Alma Maria Mahler Gropius Werfel. Alternatively, Alma Mahler-Werfel. She might be summed up as a Vienna-born composer and socialite who vacuumed up men’s attentions and several wedding Read More …

For Lenny, with love

You’ll need little reminding that this year marks the centenary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, on 25 August, 1918. And you’ll find little opposition to the widely held view that he was, and remains, the greatest musician that America ever produced. Composer-pianist-conductor, he followed the 3-talent tradition of history’s greatest musical luminaries, from Mozart Read More …

Podcast: Contemporary Danish works for accordion.

Invented during the early part of the nineteenth century, the accordion’s popularity soon soared and has been sustained ever since by its adaptability to many styles of music, from folk to heavy metal. Virtuoso performer Hanzhi Wang presents an intriguing compilation of classical works from Denmark, where numerous composers have followed the example of Per Read More …

Allongers and Marchongers

It took me a while to figure out exactly to what or to whom Charles Dickens was referring when talking of the Allongers and Marchongers in his novel Little Dorrit. The story opens in Marseilles c. 1826; the penny eventually dropped that the terms were describing soldiers singing Allons! and Marchons! in full voice; and Read More …

Podcast: A quartet of world premieres. Falletta conducts Fuchs.

Kenneth Fuchs celebrates a 15-year association with conductor JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra upon the release of these world premiere recordings of three concertos (respectively for piano, electric guitar and alto saxophone) and a song cycle for countertenor and orchestra. Variety is the hallmark of the works’ scoring, while an easy-sounding mastery is Read More …

Summery executions

As July turns to August many of us will be enjoying the sunshine and thinking of vacations past and present, so here’s a clutch of examples of classical music seasoning to set the mood. Once heard, never forgotten: few melodies conjure the languid spirit of the season as effectively as Summertime by George Gershwin, from Read More …

Podcast: Orchestral music by Eugene Zádor (1894-1977)

Born in Hungary in 1894, Eugene Zádor moved to the USA in 1939 and remained there as a naturalised citizen until his death. He left a sizeable catalogue of works that includes more than 120 film scores, 13 operas and a wide variety of concert music. Zádor has been described as a classicist, a romantic Read More …

The numbers factor

Triskaidekaphobia. Paraskevidekatriaphobia. Could they be ancient Greek versions of that song from Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins, sounding even more atrocious than Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? No. They’re terms signifying respectively a fear of the number 13 in general, and Friday the 13th in particular. Today’s blog post, falling on such a date, will try and unearth some musical Read More …

Podcast: Lindpaintner’s 4-act opera Il vespro siciliano (1843) enjoys a revival.

Peter Joseph von Lindpaintner (1791–1856) was a much admired figure in his day, referred to glowingly by such distinguished musicians as Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn, who acknowledged respectively his gift for composing operas and his skill as an orchestral conductor. Like the 21 operas he wrote, Lindpaintner himself has since been virtually forgotten, which Read More …