Podcast: Tangos for Yvar

Yvar-Emilian Mikhashoff (1941–1993) was an American pianist who collaborated with the publishing house Quadrivium Press to commission composers from all over the world to write piano pieces based on the tango dance form. An intriguing selection of those 100-plus commissions are performed on this Grand Piano release by Hanna Shybayeva, the works’ eclecticism reflected in Read More …

Podcast: Berlioz and the Shakespeare effect

Berlioz left us a number of Shakespeare-inspired works, chief among them his masterpiece Roméo et Juliette. The work took a decade to complete and is cast in an innovative form, a kind of ‘super-symphony’ that incorporates elements of symphony, opera and oratorio. Raymond Bisha introduces this new recording by Leonard Slatkin and the Orchestre National Read More …

Podcast: Compare and contrast. 2 ballet scores by Aaron Copland.

Raymond Bisha presents a pair of vividly contrasting ballet scores by Aaron Copland, superbly performed by Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Grohg immediately suggested itself as the basis for a ballet after Copland attended a screening of Nosferatu, the popular German silent horror film, in 1922; the story-line of a vampire magician able Read More …

Podcast: Agustín Barrios (1885-1944). The Paraguayan paramount of guitar music.

Raymond Bisha introduces the fifth and final volume in our series of recordings of guitar music by Agustín Barrios, the virtuoso Paraguayan guitarist and composer who was one of the first guitarists to understand the potential of making recordings. Sometimes referred to as ‘the Paganini of the guitar from the jungles of Paraguay’, his music Read More …

Podcast: Curtain up! Opera overtures by Albert Lortzing.

Born to actor-singer parents, it’s little wonder that Albert Lortzing (1801-1851) devoted his life and his musical talents to the world of opera. Although little known outside his native Germany, this actor-singer-librettist-conductor-composer’s operas were amongst the most popular productions in German theatres for more than a century, second only to Mozart and Verdi. Raymond Bisha Read More …

Podcast: Introducing the music of Florence Beatrice Price.

Born in 1887, Florence Beatrice Price went on to become one of the first prominent African-American composers. Following a move to Chicago in 1927, her career as a composer took off, not least following the award of several prizes intended to support black composers. This success brought her to the attention of the director of Read More …

Podcast: Rossini’s Sins of Old Age.

Raymond Bisha introduces us to the flip-side of Rossini the opera composer, who spent the last 40 years of his life in operatic retirement, instead composing some 200 vocal and solo piano pieces (his Sins of Old Age) whilst also indulging in the pleasantries of life as a gourmand and amateur chef. The final release Read More …

Podcast: Chamber music by Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895–1968). World premiere recordings.

The three newly published pieces on this recording were written in the decade following Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s flight to the United States in 1939 in the wake of the proclamation of anti-Jewish laws by Italy’s fascist regime. The programme includes his Concerto No. 3 for Violin and Piano (1939–40), written for no less a figure than Read More …

Podcast: Relishing the realism. Orchestral music by Alfred Bruneau.

Raymond Bisha introduces a programme of orchestral music by Alfred Bruneau (1857-1934), a composition student of Jules Massenet and one of the most important yet overlooked figures in turn-of-the-century French musical life. Bruneau’s desire for theatrical realism in his operas mirrored the literary aspirations of his friend Émile Zola. Conductor Darrell Ang and the Barcelona Read More …

Podcast: 3 orchestral works by Franz Schreker (1878-1934)

The last decade in the life of Austrian composer Frank Schreker (1878-1934) proved a tragic conclusion to his hitherto highly successful career as a teacher, conductor, administrator and composer. In the mid-1920s critics were bearing down on him for failing to step in line with developing compositional styles; by the 1930s his work had come Read More …